AUC students protest (Photo courtesy of the Insider AUC)
Students at the American University in Cairo (AUC) protested on Wednesday against a court verdict that sentenced two fellow students to five years in prison.
The two students – Abdel-Rahman Boghdady, mechanical engineering, and Abdallah Ghandour, computer science – were arrested on 20 December while protesting against what they alleged was military rule in Egypt. They also called for the release of political detainees.
On Tuesday, a Cairo court sentenced them both to five years in jail.
In response to the verdict, AUC students gathered on Wednesday in front of the university president's office to call for administrators to intervene on Boghdady and Ghandour's behalf.
Jihad Abaza, an AUC senior who was at the protest on Wednesday, said that there had recently been a case of two American students who had been detained by security forces while studying at AUC and were later released after university officials intervened in their case.
Abaza added that the university could at least issue a statement to explain what happened to the two students.
A group of students met during the day to discuss how to escalate their demands. At the end of the meeting, they decided to protest inside the office of AUC President Lisa Anderson.
They also established four demands and asked the whole AUC community to sign an online petition in support of them.
First, the students asked the university to send out an email explaining what happened to Boghdady and Ghandour.
Second, they called for a forum to be held within two weeks so that they could form a statement condemning the verdicts.
Third, they demanded the university take immediate action to ensure that the academic status of the two detained students was not affected.
Finally, they insisted that Egyptian and foreign students receive equal protection from the university.
After presenting their demands, the students said that they expected an answer from the university within 48 hours.
At their meeting, students proposed other ideas, such as writing a letter to Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour and blockading the university's entrances, as they did in August 2012 to demand a reduction in tuition fees.
No AUC officials or administrators have issued a statement regarding the case. However, there were reports that the university's provost met with Anderson on Wednesday.
The student sit-in in front of the president's office was still in effect as of Wednesday evening.
A similar sit-in was organised on Wednesday at the British University in Egypt (BUE) to protest five students who had received five years in prison and hefty fines this week.