President of Helwan University Yasser Saqr cancelled a seminar for former presidential candidate and leader of the Misr Al-Qawia Party Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh on Tuesday.
The Misr Al-Qawia Student Movement at Helwan University had announced that Aboul Ftouh would speak at a seminar about the history of student movements and their role after the 25 January revolution.
Ayman Hakim, secretary of the movement said that minutes before Aboul Fotouh’s arrival they were informed that the president of the university had cancelled the seminar.
“Saqr called Aboul Fotouh and asked him not to come due to alleged security threats and to avoid potential clashes between students,” Hakim said.
He added that students went to Saqr’s office to protest against the cancellation: “Saqr said he was afraid the seminar would descend into chaos, like what happened at Hamdeen Sabahy’s seminar on Monday.”
Hakim said the students presented a list of demands to Saqr that included a formal apology to Aboul Fotouh.
“We asked for more freedom for student activities; we worked very hard on getting permission for the seminar and then it was cancelled,” he said.
He added that students demanded that the seminar be held next week. Saqr agreed but said he had some concerns that a seminar for a political party figure represents partisan activity on campus, which is banned in universities.
“We explained to Saqr that Assuit University got approval from the Ministry of Higher Education to hold a seminar for Aboul Fotouh there; he asked for a copy of it and we prepared it,” Hakim said.
He added that Aboul Fotouh was to participate as the Secretary General of the Arab Medical Union and not as the leader of the Misr Al-Qawia Party.
On Monday, clashes erupted between opponents and supporters of former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy in a seminar at the Faculty of Engineering, Banha University.
Another seminar was cancelled earlier in April at Mansoura University. Ex-parliamentarian Mostafa Alnagar and software engineer and political figure Wael Ghoneim were supposed to speak at the seminar.
Helwan University could not be reached for comment.