[Editor: see also my editorial in AWR, 2007, week 16 and http://arabist.net/archives/2007/07/03/alain-roussillon-died-yesterday/]
The French researcher Alain Roussillon, 55 years, an expert on Egypt and the Director of CEDEJ in Cairo (Centre d’ Études et de Documentation Économique, Juridiques et Socials) [Reviewer: http://www.cedej.org.eg/sommaire.php3?lang=ar], passed away a few days ago. He was buried in Egypt according to his request.
Roussillon participated with the French Cultural Center, in his last days, in collecting the library of Egyptian writer George Ḥanīn.
Roussillon, who is known for his love for Egypt, was an expert on cultural, religious and social issues that prevailed Egypt in the 20th and 21st centuries. His concern about these issues and his bold discussions about them made the CEDEJ one of the most successful oriental centers. He considered the CEDEJ’s main mission is to link between researchers.
Roussillon was born in Neuilly in France. He holds an Agrégation d’arabe from Paris 1980. He also studied philosophy and obtained his doctorate from the Sorbonne in Paris in 1994.
He worked as a researcher in many specialized centers before coming to Egypt in the mid- sixties. In 1975, he was a professor at the Faculty of Education, the Azhar University for only one year and was the director of the Centre Jacques Berque in Morocco.
He wrote many books on Arab issues such as reform, identity and immigration. He wrote a book in French about "fighting drogues in Egypt" and "Islamic companies for investing funds and economic openness".
Roussillon was interested in Sayyid Qutb because of his liberal thought and published a book about him entitled "al-Mujtama‘ al-Misrī, Juzūruh wa Āfāquh" (the Egyptian Society, Its Roots and Prospects). The book was initially entitled, ‘Sayyid Qutb before Polarity,’ but Dār Sīnā’ Publishing house objected to this title.
He wrote a book about “Egyptians’ Travels to Japan,” published by Merriet House for Publishing in Arabic [Reviewer: the author mentions ’’about’’ and does not say whether this is the books’ titles or subjects.]
His recent book was a collective work about the issue of "social structures of women’s issue" in Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. The book discussed the problematic of reform and women’s role in elections and nominations. He believed that the reform issue put a noticeable social change on all matters not only on politics. Reform was put forward since the 19th century and still on the table so far in different forms. Intellectual then were thinking about how to achieve reform. The national project for modernization was created on the hands of intellectual Tāhah Ḥusayn.
During the 70s, question about what reform is needed for and whether identity means Arabism, Islam or Egyptian were posed. At the end, the question turned to be how we could apply this reform.
Roussillon and the CEDEJ made in-depth studies about reform, democracy and human rights.
In his views, culture is the only way to know the opinion and the other opinion. It is also a way to put forward alternatives and explain the situations.
Rousillon did not like to give advices and considered it against his scientific and research framework. He believed that the CEDEJ is not a human rights organization but it is a center that meets Arab request for new social sciences, and particularly those from France.
[Reviewer: the same subject was mentioned in al-Miṣrī al-Yawm dated July 6.]
Editor: Issandr El Amrani wrote an exellent in memoriam. Stating among other things:
"I remember him being concerned about the rising social tensions in Egypt, seeing in them both an opportunity for the expression of genuine grievances and the return of la question sociale in Egyptian politics and a potential danger. He compared the present situation to the atmosphere of the year preceding the July 1952 coup — the Cairo fire and ensuing riot, the political intrigue, the massive social disaffection and rejection of the government. Some of the large-scale strikes we had seen at the time made him suspect that the legendary patience of long-suffering Egyptians was wearing thin.
“Street protests in Egypt are dangerous – you will have thousands of deaths in case of a riot. Neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor the regime really control the street,” he said. “The January 1952 model is reproducible.” We differed somewhat on that point, but agreed on one thing: the greatest threat to the regime is not the Muslim Brotherhood or some other political group, but popular attitudes towards it, and there are few countries where the state lacks as much legitimacy as Egypt.
He was very well versed in the debates in the Egyptian press and intellectual circles — the way positions are taken and framed, the coded references and intellectual antecedents of the idées reçues of Egyptian discourse. He was also alarmed, as someone who has spent most of his adult life chronicling Egyptian society, of the ascendancy of shallow conservative and materialistic ideas in Egyptian life — the entire ecosystem of ideas and practices that has largely taken over this country in the past 20-30 years, ideas he explored by examining the new Islamic writings that were came out of the globalization of Islam. "http://arabist.net/archives/2007/07/03/alain-roussillon-died-yesterday/]