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Clashes between students and security forces continue

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Interior minister blames Muslim Brotherhood plot to defame ministry

Egyptian students of al-Azhar University who support the Muslim Brotherhood raise their hands showing the four-finger sign, called Rabaa (four) in Arabic, associated with the crackdown on supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, during clashes with riot police in Cairo on December 10, 2013. Thirteen Egyptian and international human rights organisations urged Cairo's military-installed authorities to probe the mass killing of Islamist protesters in the capital on August 14.  (AFP PHOTO / KHALED KAMEL)

Egyptian students of al-Azhar University who support the Muslim Brotherhood raise their hands showing Rabaa on December 10, 2013.
(AFP PHOTO / KHALED KAMEL)

Students Against the Coup protests continued in a number of Egyptian universities on Wednesday.

In Al-Azhar University, Central Security Forces (CSF) stormed the student dorms after dispersing a protest of female students belonging to Students Against the Coup (SAC) movement, who were blocking roads.

In Minya University seven students were arrested after a protest organised by SAC was attempted to exit the university campus.

In Cairo University a march organised by SAC moved out of the university campus and clashed with security forces in Nahda Square.

In the Faculty of Engineering of Cairo University (FECU) the administration submitted their resignation to Dr Gaber Nasser, president of Cairo University, who delayed its review and called on them to “resume their responsibilities so as not to disrupt the educational process or threaten the safety of the faculty.”

Sherif Hany, a teaching assistant at FECU and a founding member of the Revolutionary Front, said: “This is a predicted and a respectable move from the faculty’s dean specifically, who saw that he will be failing in protecting the students which is his responsibility.”

The interior ministry media office denied that security forces fired rubber bullets during clashes that took place on Tuesday in Cairo University, asserting that CSF abided by the law while handling the student protest.

Tuesday clashes led to the arrest of 17 students from Al-Azhar University, 10 students at Cairo University and a total of 13 injured security personnel, according to the interior ministry media office.

“The protesters came outside the university to Nahda Square where security forces were standing; the students moved the barbed wire in front of the forces and used it to block the road and started throwing rocks at the forces,” the interior ministry said. “The students were warned more than once and when they refused to retreat the water cannon was used, then tear gas was fired.”

The Ministry of Interior’s statement on Tuesday clashes contradicts with the testimonies of eyewitnesses who claimed that security forces used rubber bullets and not water cannons.

Mohamed Abdel Salam, researcher at the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression and responsible for the Student Observatory, said: “I predict that the situation will escalate in the coming weeks and we will witness more violations from security forces against the students and university freedoms.”

Abdel Salam added: “There is a trend towards the return of security forces inside university campuses and the allegations of securing the exams will be used as a cover for this.”

In a press conference on Wednesday, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim said the ministry is “aware of the plot the Muslim Brotherhood is working on that uses students – especially females – for protesting.” Ibrahim added that the plot amounts to “provoking security forces inside universities and accusing them of murders.”

“I am sure of that the CSF will be acquitted but we will accept the results of the investigations regardless,” he said.

The minister went on to assure that security forces “are capable of dispersing protesters and controlling the situation in five minutes, but the ministry is dealing with the situation prudently to prevent the Brotherhood from exploiting it.”

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AbdelHalim H. AbdAllah

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