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Penalties for faculty committing, inciting or abetting violence added to Egypt university law

The government approved an amendment to Egyptian university law to dismiss faculty members 'engaging in violence'

Ahram Online , Thursday 6 Nov 2014
Cairo University
Cairo University (Photo: Reuters)
Views: 2040
Views: 2040

A decision by Egypt's cabinet amended an article in its university law to hand down punishments for faculty members who "incite violence" inside campuses.

The new penalty dismisses any faculty member who "participates or incites or abets acts of violence inside universities or any of the facilities belonging to them, or smuggling weapons of any kind inside universities, or explosives, or fireworks or flammable materials or other devices or materials which endanger or harm persons or facilities or property."

The amendment has not yet been ratified by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi

Previous violations conducted by faculty members that have resulted in penalisation have included giving private lessons to students and engaging in occupations "harmful to the dignity" of their profession as university teachers.

Egypt's penal code already includes articles that penalise incitement of committing of violence, which leaves cause for doubt on the reasons behind the amendment.

Despite being unaware of the new decision, Cairo University professor Moustafa Kamel El-Sayed repeated the view shared by 9 March academic freedoms group, of which he is a member, that penalties existing in the penal code have no need to be included in university laws.

El-Sayed told Ahram Online that similar amendments proposed and later withdrawn by cabinet members seemed to be aimed at intimidating faculty members.

"Including it in the university law is meaningless since it exists in the penal code, they may be attempting to scare faculty members who hold views contradictory to the ones held by authorities," he said.

Universities across Egypt have seen constant unrest as students – many of whom support ousted president Mohamed Morsi – have engaged in violent clashes with police. Several moves by university administrators and the government have attempted to clamp down on student activity.

However some professors back the decision. Amna Nusseir, professor at Al-Azhar University which has seen some of the most violent clashes, said she backs "any measure" taken to increase regulation of university life.

"I've seen professors encourage student protests, this is unacceptable," she told Ahram Online. Nussier believes any faculty member engaging in activities deviating from his work must be prevented.

Some professors at Al-Azhar – the oldest institution for Sunni Islamic learning in the world – are suspected of belonging to or sympathising with the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails.

On Monday, Al-Azhar suspended pro-Morsi Islamic preacher and professor Mahmoud Shaaban over allegations he incited violence and violated the parameters of his job. Shaaban is currently being investigated.

Another suspension occurred in El-Menya University, whose dean of the faculty of agriculture Ali Ahmed was suspected to be fomenting protests at the university.

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