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Islamist students attempt to storm Al-Azhar

Police use teargas to repel hundreds of pro-Morsi students trying to storm Al-Azhar headquarters in Cairo

Ahram Online , Wednesday 20 Nov 2013
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Egyptian police have fired teargas at hundreds of pro-Mohamed Morsi students attempting to storm the Al-Azhar headquarters.

Around 1,500 students from Al-Azhar University marched on Wednesday from the university campus in Cairo's Nasr City to the Al-Azhar headquarters, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

The headquarters is the central administrative building of Al-Azhar, the ancient seat of Sunni Islam, which runs mosques, universities, schools and numerous charities, in addition to issuing religious edicts (fatwas).

Hundreds of students attempted to storm the building, prompting police to fire rounds of teargas and cordon off the area.

The protesters shouted slogans condemning the police and demanding the removal of Al-Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb and Al-Azhar University president Osama El-Abd.

Last week, a court sentenced 12 pro-Morsi students to 17 years in prison for attacking the Al-Azhar headquarters in October.

Tensions at the university have simmered since the beginning of term in September. Pro-Morsi students have been staging protests to demand the release of students arrested during unrest following Morsi's ouster. Protests have at times boiled over into violence with security forces.

Al-Azhar has backed the interim authorities and the army who toppled Morsi amid mass protests, infuriating his Islamist backers.

Student protests in October prompted police to enter university campuses for the first time since a 2010 court ruling barred interior ministry personnel from university grounds.

Dozens of Islamist students have been arrested since the beginning of the academic year in September.

 

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