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Cairo University will not postpone new term despite boycott threat

Authorities at Egypt's largest university accept legitimacy of student lecture boycott to force end of military rule, prosecution of those responsible for Port Said football disaster

Ahram Online, Wednesday 8 Feb 2012
Cairo University
Cairo University (Photo: Reuters)
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 Calls by students at Cairo University for a nationwide boycott of lectures have been met with toleration by the university's board of faculty deans.

Students proposed the action to demand the immediate handover of power from the ruling military council to a civilian authority, and the prosecution of those responsible for the Port Said football disaster that killed 74 people on 1 February.

"The university board reaffirms the freedom of its students and teaching staff to peacefully express their deep sorrow and anger, as well as voice their political opinions, inside the university campus," said a press statement issued by Cairo University on Wednesday.

The statement went on to confirm that the spring semester would begin on Saturday 11 February – the one year anniversary of Hosni Mubarak's ouster from power – and the day the proposed boycott will begin.

The decision to begin the semester on schedule is significant, because a postponement would have damaged the boycott's effectiveness.

"The board affirms the freedom of responsible behaviour [on campus] that does not endanger lives or damage university property," the statement continued.

"The country's dire situation requires prudent management. To satisfy the people's demands, the constitution writing process should be speeded up and presidential elections should be brought forward. In addition, all those who have contributed to the sabotage of Egypt's political life over the past three decades must be punished," the statement concluded.

The private German University in Cairo (GUC) and American University in Cairo (AUC) are among the 36 public and private institutions to have adopted the call to protest and boycott classes indefinitely.

Dozens of football fans, mostly from Cairo club Ahly, were killed on 1 February after rival Masry fans stormed the pitch at the end of a match in Port Said. Eyewitnesses blamed the deaths on lacklustre policing.

Statements released by university students view parliament's reaction to the disaster as too passive, which influenced their decision to hold the boycott.

Egypt's heath ministry has confirmed 15 deaths at protests in Cairo and Suez over the Port Said disaster since Thursday.

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