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Egyptian students march against minister of higher education

Egyptian university students march in protest, fed up with suffering attacks by thugs, destruction of property to affect student elections and senseless on-campus deaths

Ahram Online, Saturday 13 Apr 2013
student march
Students march on Higher Education Ministry 13 April 2013 (Photo courtesy of Socialist Popular Alliance Party)
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Forty-one student movements from public and private Egyptian universities protest Saturday against the ministry of higher education after several crises arose in universities across the country.

Hundreds of students began marching from Cairo University and reached the ministry of higher education calling for the sacking of Minister Mostafa Mosaad and the head of the Supreme Council of Private Universities, Gamal Nawara.

"Many student political movements are present in the demonstration, including the April 6 Youth Movement," Hesham Ashraf, head of Cairo University's student union, told Ahram Online. 

Demands from several universities across Egypt also came to the fore of Saturday's protest.

Many problems, many demands

Students are demanding sufficient security on university campuses both to halt the attacks from outsiders they've experienced recently and to generally maintain order.

Thirteen student unions, including those from the densely populated Cairo and Ain Shams universities, claimed that Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated students damaged ballot boxes used in ongoing Egyptian Student Union (ESU) elections. They disputed mostly over whether the poll results should be based on a simple majority versus absolute majority.

The ESU was formed after the January 25 Revolution to unite all student unions across the country and Brotherhood candidates were able to garner many of the Egypt-wide seats in last year's elections.

In the latest individual universities' student union elections in March, however, the Brotherhood lost some seats to students from other political forces, which may have been taken as a sign that the Brotherhood would, likewise this year, lose popularity in nationwide student union elections.

The protesters also demand the release of all students arrested in Mansoura University when clashes broke out between them and "'thugs' who [allegedly] attacked the students as they barricaded the administrative building in on-campus protests," to quote Ashraf. 

Students demand the sacking of high-level administrators in the Nile Delta's Mansoura University, where a student was killed in March after being hit by a car on campus. Students argued the university should have had proper equipment to save the student's life.

They also call for dismissing the administration of the privately-owned Misr International University (MIU) where campus security guards cracked down on a sit-in in March where students were demanding road-safety measures. They are calling on the administration to build a pedestrian bridge in front of the university main gates where several students were injured crossing the road.

Additionally, they demand better-quality health and nutrition services for students who live on campus. Protesters cited the recent food poisoning incident in Al-Azhar University, where about 500 students were hospitalised after eating on campus.

For private universities, students called on the ministry to approve the bylaws of and officially recognise the Egyptian Private Universities Union (EPUU) formed in January.

The EPUU was formed by eight private universities in response to their lack of representation and voting rights in the ESU.


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