Egyptian universities have witnessed a new wave of repression in recent weeks, as the country’s military rulers attempt to quell student protests. Riot police stormed Al-Azhar University in Cairo to crush demonstrations in support of deposed president Mohamed Morsi on 30 October. Alexandria, Cairo, Ain Shams and Mansoura Universities have also witnessed waves of protest and attacks by the security forces. Arrests of students and staff have affected universities across the country. Student activists have also faced administration sanctions such as suspension from their courses for their political activities.
The military’s “War on Terror” has provided the excuse for the crackdown – the army claims to be hunting down violent Islamists. A new law restricting the right to protest, which critics say gives the security forces a free hand to shed blood, is also under discussion at the moment.
The Minister for Higher Education, Hossam Eissa and the Supreme Universities Council, agreed a package of measures against campus protests on 25 October, including expanding budgets for security personnel, bringing in larger numbers of security guards, introducing electronic gates, limiting the number of protests allowed on campus, and introducing punishments for infringement of these rules.
A wide range of student groups have condemned the repression, however, as an attempt to turn back the clock to the Mubarak era, when the security police ruled campuses with an iron fist. In a joint statement released on 4 November, 8 student groups accused Eissa of providing “legal cover for the crushing of the student movement, and not just supporters of Mohamed Morsi and the students of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“These new decisions pave the way for the counter-revolution, led by the military, to hit back at the student movement and liquidate the revolution.”
It is not only directly political issues which have led to rising student anger. Poor conditions on campus, rising tuition fees and the failure to provide accommodation for new students have all sparked protests this academic year.
What you can do:
- Print out these posters [anti_protest_poster_bw and anti_protest_poster] and leaflet to distribute and send us a solidarity picture via Facebook or Twitter (@menasolidarity)
- Pass a resolution in your union branch condemning the anti-protest law
- Send a letter of protest to the Egyptian embassy, 26 South Street, London, W1K 1DW