On-campus political activities banned: Education minister

Jihad Abaza
4 Min Read
Students demonstrate at Cairo University in October 2013. (Photo by Ahmed Al-Malky)

Students are banned from practicing political activities inside universities, said Minister of Higher Education Al-Sayed Abdul Khaleq, according to state-owned news agency MENA.

He added that he will not allow for any partisan or political agendas on university campuses.

“If there is a minority that insists on fulfilling its political and partisan agenda in the university, I tell them we will not allow this and we will apply the law firmly and decisively on everyone,” Abdul Khaleq said Wednesday in an interview with the private owned channel Al-Hayyat.

The minister also stated that 25 faculty members of Mansoura Univeristy were referred to investigations by the “disciplinary councils” inside the university after they were accused of involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Abdul Khaleq added that the Supreme Council of Universities decided to refer all faculty members accused of involvement with the Brotherhood to “disciplinary councils” inside universities.

“Universities have lost their independence and the professors’ and students’ rights,” said Ahmed Ghoneim, the spokesperson for the group Students Against the Coup (SAC), a student political group formed after the military ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi.

Abdul Khaleq is due to meet with the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to discuss issues regarding education in Egypt, including how to “bring back stability” to the universities before the beginning of the new academic year, MENA reported.

“The function of the Ministry of Higher Education and university administrations since the coup has become one of security,” Ghoneim said.

He added: “The minister has become an assistant to the Minister of Interior in universities and is not a Minister of Education.”

President of Cairo University, Gaber Nassar recently announced that the university will ban all politically-affiliated student groups and activities.

Cairo University has partnered with a security company, which will provide security dogs to detect on-campus bombs to prepare for the upcoming academic year.

Ain Shams University students are to sign consent forms vowing not to participate in on-campus political activities, according to statements from the university’s vice dean.

Meanwhile, the Al-Azhar University administration also decided to delay the opening of its dormitories, where security forces often clashed with the students residing in the dormitories, according to state-owned Al-Ahram.

Security forces killed and detained dozens of Al-Azhar students from inside the dormitories over the past academic year.

“Instead of hearing at the beginning of the academic year about progress in the educational system and improvements in the curriculum or in the infrastructure of universities, we hear of security protocols and oppressive procedures,” said Ghoneim.

The past year has witnessed violent clashes between security forces and students inside university campuses all across the country.

According the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression’s student observatory, security forces killed at least 16 students inside university campuses across Egypt over the past year.

Cairo University expelled 94 students for taking part in protests last year while security forces also arrested more than 48 students from inside the Cairo University campus last year.

The 94 students were expelled without their knowledge, Ghoneim said, who is among them.

“The 94 students include students who are detained and others that were killed, like the martyr Islam Ghanim,” he added.

The new academic year, initially due to start in mid-September, has been postponed to 11 October.

“We assure that all of these procedures will not succeed in stopping the students’ movement,” Ghoneim said.

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Jihad Abaza is a journalist and photographer based in Cairo. Personal website: www.abaza.photo
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