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Michigan Students In Arabic Program Evacuate Egypt

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An Egyptian woman walks past a graffiti on the wall blocking Sheikh Rihan Street, at the corner of the American University in Cairo. (credit: MOHAMMED HOSSAM/AFP/Getty Images, File)

An Egyptian woman walks past a graffiti on the wall blocking Sheikh Rihan Street, at the corner of the American University in Cairo. (credit: MOHAMMED HOSSAM/AFP/Getty Images, File)

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After graduating from the University of Michigan, Sandra McNeill...
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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The unrest in Egypt has two Michigan universities scrambling to bring their students home.

A U.S.-based international education and training organization said Wednesday it’s evacuating 18 Arabic language program students from Egypt to Morocco due to deteriorating security conditions.

The 18 students are from Michigan State and Oklahoma universities, as well as the universities of Michigan, Texas and Maryland.

WWJ Newsradio 950’s Sandra McNeil spoke with University of Michigan spokesman Rick Fitzgerald who said eight U-M students have been studying abroad at the American University in Cairo.

“For the last couple of days they’ve been not attending classes, but staying in a secure residence hall at the American University in Cairo campus,” Fitzgerald said. “And, as we further evaluated the situation today the decision was that things are just too unsettled.”

Fitzgerald said the student have not been in any danger, but it just didn’t seem practical to continue with the program at this point.

At Michigan State, spokesman Jason Cody said five MSU students had been studying abroad.

“All students have either left Egypt and come back to the U.S. or went to another destination to continue their studies,” Cody said Wednesday.

Armine Poghikyan of the nonprofit American Councils for International Education in Washington, D.C., said that participants in the Arabic Overseas Flagship Program arrived June 21 at Alexandria University for what was to be one year of studies.

Officials decided the program needed to move to Moulay Ismail University in Meknes, Morocco, in the wake of political violence across Egypt, and the students will leave that country by the end of the week.

“In recent days, it had become clear that in order to guarantee the safety of our students in Egypt, it had become necessary to establish curfews and limitations on their movements,” American Councils’ President Dan Davidson said in a statement. “The students were essentially having to give up many of the kinds of informal language contacts and cultural exploration that overseas immersion study is designed to provide.”

Egypt’s military announced Wednesday that President Mohammed Morsi will be replaced with the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court. Military officials also called for early presidential elections and suspended the Islamist-backed constitution. Cheers erupted among millions of protesters nationwide who were demanding the removal of Morsi. Morsi supporters shouted, “No to military rule!”

Eight other University of Michigan students also will be evacuated from The American University in Cairo, University of Michigan officials announced Wednesday afternoon. The seven undergraduate students and one graduate student are expected to leave the city Thursday and ultimately return to the United States.

The students, who were about halfway through a two-month cultural program, originally were ordered to stay in a residence hall, but “the uncertainty of the situation in Cairo in the days ahead made this decision very clear for us,” James Holloway, university vice provost for global and engaged education, said in a statement.

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based university said three more students participating in another Arabic language study course in Cairo are moving with their program to Amman, Jordan.

Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., said it has four graduate students in Egypt and has offered to help them leave. The university has also suspended study-abroad programs for Egypt this fall.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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