The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, announced that a committee is being formed to deal with the pressing issues faced by students at Al-AzharUniversity, state-run news agency MENA reported on Tuesday evening. Al-Tayeb said he would personally follow up on the results of the investigations currently taking place into the mass food poisoning of Al-Azhar students.
Al-Tayeb said such incidents cannot be tolerated and that he supported the punishment of those responsible for negligence.
Al-Tayeb encouraged students to study for their exams, also urging them “not to allow the politicisation of their legitimate demands to improve services for students”.
The Grand Imam also met with Al-Azhar’s student union, checking on the condition of the students who had fallen ill. It was agreed during the meeting that Ibrahim Al-Hudhud, the Vice President of Al-Azhar University for Education and Student Affairs, would head the new committee with the help of the deans from the medical, agriculture, engineering, commerce, Islamic Studies, and Arabic departments, as well as student representatives.
The new committee will oversee the student dormitories and propose staff changes in cases of employee negligence. The committee will also be tasked with the development of restaurants on campus and maintaining hygiene standards through the preparation of monthly reports submitted to the university council. Al-Tayeb wants the committee to formulate a short-term plan to improve all student services.
Al-Hudhud is tasked with preparing an urgent report on the state of the university cafeterias, and the medical school will directly supervise healthcare facilities. An ambulance from the Ministry of Health and Population will be available for the university on a full-time basis.
The student union has formed a delegation to meet with President Mohamed Morsi on Thursday, a statement from the union said. The statement added that Al-Tayeb and the student union agreed on providing financial compensation to the family of Ahmed El-Baz, the student who died last week, and on the appointment of Al-Hudhud as temporary head of the university until elections can be held.
Mahmoud Farghaly, an Al-Azhar student and member of the 6 April Youth Movement, said that the university held its own high council meeting on Tuesday, where it was decided to reject the president’s dismissal. If true, the decision to stand against Al-Tayeb and the protesting students could cause a rift in Al-Azhar’s internal politics, Farghaly said.
The students are also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Hesham Qandil on Wednesday, according to the statement.
The Muslim Brotherhood Youth also issued a statement on Tuesday evening expressing solidarity with the students and calling on Egyptians to preserve the greatness of the university by supporting the students’ efforts to weed out corruption.