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Morsi issues decree to establish controversial Zewail science centre

The decree is the latest measure in a struggle between Nile University and the Zewail City of Science and Technology over disputed land

Zeinab El Gundy, Monday 24 Dec 2012
Morsi
Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi (L), Ahmed Zeweil (R) (Photo: Ahram)
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President Mohamed Morsi issued a law on Monday establishing Zewail City of Science and Technology as Egypt's national scientific renaissance project.

The Zewail City of Science and Technology (ZCST), managed by Nobel prize winner in chemistry Ahmed Zewail, is officially established according to Law no. 161 of 2012, with headquarters and premises located in Sheikh Zayed and October City, with no further details about the exact locations and whether it will use the disputed buildings and the premises of Nile University or not.

The law comes after a November ruling by the Administrative Court that Nile University should restore the disputed buildings on the campus, after months of protests by Nile University students who insist on the ownership of the university's premises.

The presidential decree was met by anger from the students and professors of Nile University.

Salma Shabayak, a Nile University student, told Ahram Online that she does not feel positive about the decree.

"We cannot appeal the president's decrees so what are we going to do?" Shabayak said, adding that next Wednesday the Administrative Court is going to issue its final verdict in the appeal case presented by Zewail's City for Science and Technology against the ruling of the Administrative Court in favour of Nile University.

"I feel that the Administrative Court's ruling whether now or in the future will not be of any use as we have a presidential decree now," Shabayak said.

The young student hinted that the new law is, like the Administrative Court's ruling, ambiguous, in that it did not include details about the exact location and address of either Nile University or Zewail City.

A dispute over the land ensued after the 2011 revolution; Nile University students were left without a campus when former prime minister Ahmed Nazif, who had granted their university its land, was imprisoned facing corruption charges.

In August 2012 Nile University students held a sit-in at the disputed campus for several weeks until it was dispersed by force in August 2012.

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