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Al-Azhar University clashes disrupt exams

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One student shot dead, 14 injured and 101 arrested following clashes

A man stands outside a faculty building at Cairo's Al-Azhar University after student supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood stormed it on December 28, 2013. The violence comes a day after three people were killed in clashes and 265 arrested across Egypt in a crackdown on Brotherhood demonstrations after the movement was labelled a terrorist group by the military-installed government.  (AFP PHOTO / KHALED KAMEL)

A man stands outside a faculty building at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University after student supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood stormed it on December 28, 2013.
(AFP PHOTO / KHALED KAMEL)

Ministry of Health spokesman Dr Mohamed Fathallah said on Saturday that a student from Al-Azhar University was shot dead with live ammunition Saturday morning. Fathallah added that the student was already dead before being transported to the hospital.

Fourteen students were also transferred to nearby hospitals, with injuries varying from birdshots and bone fractures, according to FathAllah.

According the media office of the Interior Ministry, 101 students from Al-Azhar University were arrested during the clashes and police found Molotov cocktails, fireworks and pellet guns with them.

In an official statement, the Interior Ministry claimed that the arrested were students belonging to the “terrorist organisation” of the Muslim Brotherhood, who stormed inside the faculties of Commerce, Science and Theology.

“The students had pellet guns with which they terrorised other students and university staffers, firing several shots and destroying the seating lists,” stated the government ministry.  ”When the security forces interfered to control the situation, the students set the building of the Faculty of Commerce on fire.”

Students Against the Coup (SAC) accused the security forces of setting the building on fire.

Wessam Atta, student at the Faculty of Commerce and a founding member of the Revolutionary Front said that “due to the clashes [he] was not able to take the exam and the faculty’s building was set on fire, despite the presence of both security and firefighting forces.”

In Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering, where student and protester Mohamed Reda had died, “the exams took place normally and security forces weren’t even on campus,” said student Amr Shalan.

Several students from different faculties lamented that they were not able to take their exams due to the clashes, but the Interior Ministry reaffirmed that all examinations had taken place.

Daily News Egypt talked to students from the Faculty of Engineering at Al-Azhar University after finishing their exams. One of the students expressed his dismay at the situation saying, “This is very stressful environment for taking the exams.”

Armed security forces were waiting outside the examination hall asking the students to leave campus immediately after the exams.

While in Ain Shams University, SAC organised a protest in solidarity with the students in Al-Azhar. The protest started with only a few students chanting outside the university’s main gate, but the crowd increased as the students toured the university campus.

Several students started covering their faces, and gathered outside the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Computer Science with the intention of interrupting the examinations taking place inside both faculties. Though the administrative security was able to prevent the attempt peacefully,  protesting students then began to destroy the seating lists outside the faculties.

Although the protest was called for by SAC in Ain Shams University, no signs bearing  “Rabaa”, Students Against the Coup logo nor pictures of Ousted President Morsi were seen; however, the students chanted anthems of the Muslim Brotherhood, made the four fingers sign of Rabaa with their hands and cheered against military rule, the interior ministry, and General Al-Sisi.

Unnamed for fear of being arrested, one of the protesting students, a freshman in the Faculty of Computer, said that “the protest [was] a reaction and was hastily called for; therefore there was no time to prepare signs”.

The students who spoke to Daily News Egypt mentioned that they only participate through online events and do not know directly the organisers of the protests. They referred to themselves as Rabaweya–supporters of the Rabaa Al-Adweya sit-in who demanded the return of ousted President Morsi–but not as members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

All the students who spoke with DNE said that they will take their exams normally, but  were willing to boycott exams were it done on a large scale.

Mohamed Abdel Salam, researcher at the Student Observatory of the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression, commented on the clashes of Al-Azhar: “The situation is ridiculous and no one is benefiting from it.”

He continued to propose a solution for the current situation: “There should be either a dialogue between the students supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and the government or an easing of security forces on campus.”

About the author

AbdelHalim H. AbdAllah

Follow AbdelHalim on twitter: @Abdukhalim1


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