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University security, administrative violations ‘killing space for freedom of expression’: AFTE

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Al-Azhar sees a majority of violations, with two students shot dead on 30 March

Students clashed with security forces at Al-Azhar University following protests organised by StudentsAgainst the Coup (Photo by Ahmed Al-Malky)

Students clashed with security forces at Al-Azhar University following protests organised by StudentsAgainst the Coup
(Photo by Ahmed Al-Malky)

The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) released a statement Saturday condemning the “shameful silence of the Supreme Council of Universities” that allows police to “break into campus and fire tear gas, birdshot and even live ammunition” at students.

The strongly-worded statement says that recent actions by both university administrations and police forces “are a clear threat to students’ education and even their right to life,” while “killing any space for the freedom of expression gained since the 25 January Revolution.”

Specific violations are listed for Al-Azhar, Alexandria and Menufiya universities. Both Al-Azhar’s Cairo and Zagazig branches witnessed violations.

Al-Azhar’s Cairo branch, a bastion of pro-Morsi resistance, witnessed the death of two students, Attah Ahmed and Ahmed Hafez. Both were shot and killed on 30 March when security forces stormed the campus to quell ongoing protests. Ahmed was shot in the head by live ammunition. It remains unclear how Hafez was killed. The statement adds that “dozens” of others were wounded by birdshot.

A day later, security forces dispersed a Students Against the Coup march with teargas and birdshot which “lead to many casualties”.

On 1 April, police forces “attacked with tear gas and birdshot” a Students Against the Coup march at Alexandria University. The students were protesting in support of detained colleagues.

The Zagazig branch of Al-Azhar University saw a number of administrative violations, including six arrests. Administration also referred three students to a disciplinary board for their involvement in protests.

Mostafa Al-Argaway, legal advisor for Al-Azhar, said: “The university has decided to expel 25 students… on the background of sabotage inside the university, burning a faculty member’s car, and the attack on the car of the university president.”

Menufiya University also saw a number of administrative violations. According to AFTE’s statement, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering expelled nine students who belonged to the Students Against the Coup movement. The statement claims that the decision to expel the students was made without investigation.

The university added that the students were involved in various acts of vandalism.

The three bombs that killed one and injured five others at Cairo University on Wednesday were listed in the statement, but not as specific university violations, as the bombings were quickly claimed by the militant group Ajnad Misr.

Saturday’s statement on security and administrative violations is the second AFTE statement on the subject. The first, released on 18 March, covered the first week of classes which saw “tremendous amounts of violations” against students.

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