Plainclothes policemen arrested three female Al-Azhar University students Monday, of whom one, Rehab Awad, remains in detention, the Al-Azhar Student Union spokesperson Mahmoud Al-Azhary said on Tuesday.
He added they were taken into a white microbus next to a group of security forces. The whereabouts of the girls were unknown until they were released that night. Awad remains detained at the Nasr City police station.
In a separate incident, first-year student Aliaa Tarek, has been missing for the past nine days. She was arrested from in front of the Al-Azhar campus with two other female students and sent her mother a message informing her that she was in a security car.
Since then, the two students have been released, but neither her family nor her friends know of Tarek’s whereabouts, Al-Azhary said.
Meanwhile, over thirty academics from universities across Egypt, including Cairo University, Alexandria University, the American University in Cairo, Ain Shams, and Zagazig University, released a statement Tuesday condemning the security presence on university campuses.
Cairo University Professor Randa Abou-Bakr stated that she initiated this statement because “a purely security-based, violent way of dealing with students is unacceptable and is in no-one’s benefit”.
Police have arrested at least 76 Al-Azhar University students since the first day of the academic year on 11 October, according to Al-Azhary .
“We are saying that Al-Azhar University is now run and ruled by armed gangs, and the security forces are constantly violating the sanctity of university,” Al-Azhary said, adding that this was especially true for the girls’ section of the university.
There have been a large number of “offensive violations” at the girls’ gates from employees of private security firm Falcon, he added.
Al-Azhary added that “the students will continue to demonstrate.”
Dozens of Al-Azhar students arrested from campus and detained in Tora Prison since last year have started hunger-strikes, some of which have lasted over 35 days, to protest their detentions.
Meanwhile, in other universities across Egypt, students have been demonstrating against the court ruling of three-year prison sentences for the Itihadiya detainees, according to Freedom for the Brave, an initiative that provides support for detainees.
At least 15 university administrations across Egypt have signed contracts with Falcon to be present on campuses from the beginning of the academic school year.
Professor of Anthropology, Mohammed Tabishat signed the statement in condemnation of security present on campuses due to his belief in the “commitment to the principle of academic freedom”, a principle that he says “prohibits direct and indirect military intervention” within the academy.
“A university should be a place that sustains, protects, and promotes freedom of expression, speech and free thinking,” he said, adding that “the issue is not about universities only… it is in the interests of society as a whole to keep universities free of oppression.”
At least 230 students have been arrested since the beginning of the new academic year, according to the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).
In addition, security forces have killed one student, Omar Al-Sherif in clashes between students and security forces in Alexandria University, bringing the number of students killed on campuses up to 17 over the past two years.