Al-Azhar students celebrated the decision of the Supreme Council of Al-Azhar to dismiss top university officials.
The decision to dismiss the university’s president Ossama Al-Abd and his aides came after an emergency meeting between top Al-Azhar officials on Wednesday morning.
The meeting was attended by Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb and Al-Abd and was followed by a press conference to announce the meeting’s outcome.
Elections to replace the top officials will occur after election rules are approved by the Al-Azhar Supreme Council. The rules will be drafted by a committee which will present them to the council within two weeks.
Students had been carrying out a sit-in outside the Grand Imam’s offices in Al-Darassa since Tuesday afternoon despite some attempts by security to stop them at the gates. The Tuesday protest coincided with the first emergency meeting the Grand Imam held after the food poisoning incident which the university had described as a “passing incident which happens in other universities”.
One of the protesting students Mohamed Eissa said Al-Tayeb entered the headquarters on Wednesday under heavy security and through a backdoor.
Jubilations and chants broke out when the students learned of the sacking of the university’s top officials. They are set to leave the Darassa offices after they conclude their celebrations.
Eissa said on Tuesday that the students were chanting against university officials but if Al-Tayeb did not quickly respond to their demands they would start demanding his removal as well. He said for now, the students are “satisfied with these decisions but we are planning to remove the sheikh (Al-Tayeb) in the future”.
At least 580 students suffered food poisoning after having a chicken meal at the university dorms. Most of the students are believed to have been released after recovering from the food poisoning.
Following the food poisoning outbreak, Al-Tayeb dismissed the head of the university dorms and the head of the nutrition of the dorms but that was not enough to quell the anger of students.
The Wednesday emergency meeting also saw the removal of the head of “City A” of the male student dorms and the head of the female dorms. Al-Azhar University’s dorms are separated according to male and female residents. The male dorms are made up of two adjacent cities, called “City A” and “City B”.
“Those responsible are going to be referred to investigations and followed up by the general prosecution,” the Al-Azhar council said.
Students had blocked Al-Nasr Street, a major road in Nasr City on Wednesday. This was the third day in a row in which students blocked major roads in objection to their colleagues’ poisoning.
Last month students from the dorms held protests objecting to the quality of the food served at the dormitories and the poor state of the buildings and facilities. Some female students were assaulted by university employees during the protests, increasing tensions between students and the university administration.
The university administration promised to meet these demands through a number of measures, including hiring a company to ensure that the dorm kitchens are up to health standards and a sanitation company to help fight insects inside dorm rooms.