Clashes erupted in Zagazig University on Wednesday after a Muslim Brotherhood student protest was reportedly attacked by other students.
Salma Samy, Zagazig University student who works with the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression’s (AFTE) Student Observatory, said that pro-Brotherhood protesters were rallying outside the university administration’s building when students “affiliated with the university administration” began attacking them.
The clashes prompted the police to break into the university campus, using teargas to disperse the rally. The Brotherhood protesters took shelter atop the Faculty of Science building, where they pelted police forces with rocks, Samy said.
“The students affiliated with the university administration then stormed the Faculty of Engineering and began arresting students with the help of security forces,” Samy claimed, describing the former as “thugs”. She added that around ten students were arrested and taken to the university’s security building and will either be released or taken to the nearest police station.
Police forces also broke into the Al-Azhar University campus on Tuesday after a group of masked assailants stormed the girls’ section in the university, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Interior. The ministry accused the said assailants of attacking and wounding the university’s administrative security and staff, vandalising university institutions and torching trash bins.
The Ministry of Interior said it intervened upon the request of Al-Azhar University’s Chairman Osama Al-Abd, who called on them to “protect lives and properties”.
Mahmoud Salah, spokesman of the pro-Mohamed Morsi Students Against the Coup (SAC) movement in Al-Azhar University, said that the families of female students were attacked by university security personnel. The families were on the campus to report the attacks their protesting daughters were allegedly subjected to at the hands of the administrative security personnel, Salah added.
“There were no masked assailants,” Salah said, commenting on the interior ministry’s statement.
Police forces then stormed the university campus using teargas and allegedly arrested 15 male students and five female students, Salah said, adding that the teargas canisters had ignited fires. He also claimed that police forces broke into the Faculty of Agriculture and used birdshot weapons. Ministry of Interior spokesman Hany Abdel Latif had earlier told the Daily News Egypt that the police forces are not armed with birdshot.
The interior ministry announced the arrest of 16 “rioters”, including 14 Al-Azhar University students who allegedly belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.
On Wednesday, AFTE released a report detailing the information on detained students nationwide who will possibly be prevented from sitting through their midterm exams. The association called for allowing them to take the exams.
According to the report, 510 university students were arrested since July, 10% of whom were sentenced to prison, while 37% remain preventively detained; the legal status of 49% of the detained students remains unclear.
Students from Cairo University and Al- Azhar, Mansoura, Alexandria and Zagazig universities have held demonstrations since the start of the academic year. In many cases, the protests have turned into violent stand-offs with security forces.
Security forces were first allowed into Al-Azhar University after violence erupted on the university campus on 30 October.
Shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi announced that police forces would be present at the gates of all public universities “in order to help maintain security”. The cabinet also gave university presidents the right to request the entry of police forces into campus in case of “threats to individuals, property or students”.