Muslim Brotherhood supporters from Al-Azhar University clashed with police forces Monday during protests in the university and on El-Nasr Road. The demonstrations were held to protest against the death and detainment of fellow students since the dispersal of sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda Square.
The university has been witnessing protests since the beginning of the school year last week where other issues also prompted dissent, including the expulsion of students for protesting and the lack of available housing.
According to Al-Ahram, the president of the Emergency Institution said: “Three injuries resulted from the clash, one in El-Nasr Road and two in Meit Ghamr,” and university students claimed that they have seen more injuries.
According to Ahmed Noor Al-Din, an Al-Azhar student and member of the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, the protest commenced at “around 10:30am in front of the university administration building and Faculty of Medicine.”
Noor Al-Din added: “After going outside campus and blocking Nasr City for around 30 minutes, the protestors headed to the military barricade at 2pm, at which they were ordered to head-back.”
“Upon returning within university campus limits, police forces arrived and started firing tear gas canisters from outside the university into the campus itself, to which the students responded by throwing stones at the forces…there were claims of birdshot cartridges being fired by the police” Noor Al-Din stated.
Spokesman of the Al-Azhar student union, Abdallah Abd El Motaleb, said: “Student protests reached the military barrier near Rabaa Square in El-Nasr Road, which is about 400 metres from the campus.”
“In an attempt to disperse the demonstrators in front of the Rabaa Square military barricade, live shots were fired in the air,” Abdel Motaleb added.
Abdel Motaleb claimed that the protests are against the detention of 79 Al-Azhar University students and the death of around 77, adding that other demands include the removal of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayeb and university president Osama Al-Abd.
“The university has not recognised the detained students, which is a scandal” Abdel Motaleb said.
In a statement, the Ministry of Interior said: “Attempts to advise students did not work, where they insisted on committing abuses, prompting forces to deal with them through tear gas to disperse them…the students then sought asylum within university walls before continuing to throw stones from within, endangering citizens and passersby.”
“The forces were committed to exercising restraint, in order to not increase casualties among students and citizens” the statement read, adding that “two protestors were arrested”.
Al-Azhar Student Union President Ahmad Al-Baqary, placed the responsibility of today’s events on Al-Tayeb, labelling him “the coup sheikh”.
In a statement by Al-Baqary, he called the events of today “a crime in the face of the oldest and largest university in the Middle East”.
Students protesting against lack of dorm housing claimed that they were violently dispersed. The Al-Azhar University Student Union released a statement “condemning” the “use of violence against female students who were demonstrating, placing responsibility on the university administration and asking them to immediately provide housing”.
According to the Ministry of Interior’s media office, 40 students from Al-Azhar University accused of inciting riots, blocking roads and stalling traffic and were interrogated by prosecution last Monday. They were detained after another day of clashes erupting between Al-Azhar students and security forces last Sunday.
Protests ended and traffic resumed at around 5pm in El-Nasr Road.
6 April Movement member and student at the university Hussein Gawish confirmed that the movement was not “present during today’s protests, but will protest regarding the expulsion of a student who was protesting.” He added that the Muslim Brotherhood has been dominating protests since the beginning of the school year.
According to Al-Ahram, Vice-Chairman of Al-Azhar University Ahmad Hosny reduced chances of the school year being suspended after Monday’s incidents, claiming that the “problems faced by the university last year regarding the dorm housing problem will not be repeated”.
Hosny added that the “number of students at the university is exceeding the housing capabilities”.
Aswat Masreya reported: “Egyptian television said that the students have attacked the film crew Nile News Channel when covering the protests.”