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17 Al-Azhar students sentenced to 14 years in jail for rioting

Students sentenced for taking part in protests last May over alleged food poisoning at Al-Azhar University

El-Sayed Gamal El-Deen, Thursday 20 Mar 2014
Tayeb
Grand Imam of Azhar Ahmed Tayeb (Photo: Ahram)
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A Cairo court has sentenced 17 Al-Azhar University students to 14 years in jail on charges of storming the university headquarters, judicial sources said on Thursday.

Sources said the students were also each fined LE90,000 ($13,000) on charges of rioting, damaging public property, burning nine vehicles and attacking security personnel and Al-Azhar staff.

The incident on which the court ruled dates back to May of last year, during the rule of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, when a wave of protests spread through Al-Azhar University after hundreds of students were hospitalised for food poisoning on two separate occasions.

The double scandal prompted mass demonstrations by students, some of whom called for the sacking of Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb, who as head of Al-Azhar oversees Al-Azhar University's programme in Egypt.

Thursday's sentence, which can be appealed, is not the first against Al-Azhar students.

Tens of students from the historic centre of Islamic learning have been rounded up by authorities after holding demonstrations calling for the reinstatement of Morsi and condemning Egypt's interim authorities.

Twelve Al-Azhar students were sentenced to 17 years in prison last November on similar charges of rioting, in addition to being fined LE64,000 ($9,200) each.

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