Around 80 faculty members from several universities announced their solidarity with a suspended teaching assistant, who is currently under investigations, and demanded an end to “arbitrary procedures” against teaching staff.
The teaching assistant from the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University (FECU), Sherif Hany, received a notice last Wednesday informing him of his three-month suspension pending investigation. The statement of solidarity said: “The point behind the investigation is to humiliate faculty members and assistants for stances they took in the past.”
Hany’s first investigation hearing was on Monday; however, his request for its postponement to 6 March was granted. He is due to appear before a disciplinary committee on Wednesday, which will decide whether he will be receiving his salary. Hany added that he is currently carrying out procedures for presenting an appeal to the disciplinary committee for the decision to suspend and investigate him.
“Out of our full rejection to what happened to our colleague Hany, we assert our full rejection of any arbitrary decision against any member of the faculty or teaching assistants. We demand that the university administration withdraws its suspension decision,” the signatories said.
The notice Hany received is dated 16 February and is signed by Cairo University Chairman Gaber Nassar. Hany is accused in the notice of leading a student protest held in December, inciting the students to break into the Faculty of Engineering and cheering with “aggressive and unacceptable chants” against the university chairman.
On 7 December, students gathered at Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering with the intention of holding a sit-in inside, Hany said. The students were protesting the killing of Mohamed Reda, a freshman who died on campus due to fatal birdshot injuries.
They could not, however, go inside the faculty because its doors were locked. Fearing that clashes would erupt, Hany intervened. The statement signed in solidarity with Hany said: “Some members of the faculty and their assistants, including Hany, tried to calm down the students and prevent an escalation.”
According to Hany, University Chairman Nassar arrived and said that neither students nor professors were allowed to strike. Hany, however, interrupted him and said that striking is a legal right. Students began cheering against the chairman, who subsequently left. Eventually, they broke the locks of the doors and entered the faculty building.
The signatories asserted in their statement that “the university administration returns to our minds what used to happen before the glorious 2011 revolution from gagging voices and confiscating freedoms, especially freedom of expression”. Most of the signatories who announced solidarity with Hany are from Cairo University, but members of other universities also co-signed the statement.
The Faculty of Engineering halted classes for one week to protest the death of slain student Reda, who died after clashes erupted between security forces and Students Against the Coup on 28 November 2013.
Reda is considered a victim of “police violations in universities”, and he remained one of the driving factors behind student protests which occurred throughout the rest of the term.