Students have put themselves on the front lines of the struggle in countries in the Middle East and North Africa to rid the region of monarchies and strongmen who have ruled, in some cases, for decades. Inspired by uprisings for freedom in Tunisia and Egypt, young people are taking on repressive regimes in hopes that their countries can be free from tyranny.
Libya: Students, who participated in a movement that called for a "Day of Rage" on February 17, are seeing their friends killed by mercenaries that Leader Gaddafi has hired to protect him from losing power. In his rambling and incoherent speech on February 22, Gaddafi accused youth of taking “hallucinatory drugs” and destroying the country. He also compared the youth to “greasy rats and cats.”
Al Jazeera reported on February 17 that Libya was threatening to withdraw government scholarships from students studying in the United States if they didn’t attend pro-government rallies. Students told Al Jazeera they received phone calls from the Libyan Embassy explaining they would pay for plane tickets, hotel rooms and food if they took part and, if they didn’t, the government would move to cut all financial support.
At the London School of Economics, students have launched an occupation against the school’s ties to the Libyan regime.
Bahrain: Since Bahrainis held their “Day of Rage” on February 14, teachers have been encouraging students to go to Pearl Roundabout to camp out and protest King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. This cable released by WikiLeaks titled, “Bahrain’s Youth: Worried About Jobs, Skeptical of Political Authority and Open to America” offers a window into the grievances fueling young people in Bahrain.
Yemen: Without students, President Abu Abdullah Saleh would likely be facing a fairly insignificant uprising. Tom Finn, stringer for The Guardian who is in Yemen, reports University of Sanaa students have been holding an open-ended sit-in in front of the university for ten days. The students have also faced brutal violence as pro-Saleh “bullies” have been brutalizing activists late in the night despite a police presence there to keep students and others safe from attacks. Protests have escalated since the February 3 "Day of Rage."
Algeria: Outside the Ministry of Higher Education, thousands of students have been protesting and defying a ban on demonstrations. Since they participated in a “Day of Rage” on February 12 demanding President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s resignation, the students have been engaging in regular protests. And, although Bouteflika recently moved to rescind the 19-year state emergency law, which had banned public gatherings, the students intend to keep protesting until Bouteflika is out.