Students Against the Coup (SAC) rejected President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to Cairo University on Sunday, said spokesperson of the group Youssef Saleheen, describing it as giving a green light for an upcoming crackdown on students.
“The speech comes as an attempt to abort any student mobilisation in university campuses,” said Saleheen in a statement on Monday. Al-Sisi asked students not to be involved with political activities.
“Practising politics on campus was always an efficient way to prepare political leaders,” said Saleheen, who added that before the visit the Cairo University campus was closed for two days.
The group issued a statement after the speech took place saying that only students who were known to be supporters of the current regime were selected to attend. “While the majority of revolutionary students and professors were banned from entering the campus, he [Al-Sisi] was accompanied by the old guards of the regime to listen to his speech.”
Although a systematic crackdown is underway by security forces against the student movement, the group will continue its mobilisation to counter the regime and to demand justice, Saleheen said.
The group members protested in Tahrir Square on Sunday morning against the visit and were dispersed by what they described as “armed men in civilian clothing”.
During his Sunday speech Al-Sisi honoured 27 students from 20 different public universities. He stressed the importance of involving the country’s youth in the government and national projects, according to state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram.
The president also urged them to pursue education and to leave behind destructive and negative activities and thinking.
On 11 September, Minister of Higher Education Al-Sayed Abdul Khaleq announced that students are banned from practising political activities inside universities, putting restrictions on all political agendas on university campuses.
Amid increased security measures, the new academic semester started with private security companies using dogs to detect on-campus bombs.
The past year has witnessed violent clashes between security forces and students inside university campuses across the country.
According the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression’s student observatory, security forces killed at least 16 students inside university campuses across Egypt over the past year, with 94 students expelled and 48 arrested.