Following violence, Al-Azhar student group threatens exam boycott

Ahram Online, Saturday 14 Dec 2013

Following violent clashes with police, the engineering students' coalition at Al-Azhar University in Cairo has demanded the resignation of the university's president

Riot police officers advance towards protesters at Al-Azhar University during clashes in Cairo October 20, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Engineering students at Cairo's Al-Azhar University have announced an open-ended strike amid tension following violent clashes and ongoing protests on the campus.

Egypt's universities have been the site of repeated protests since the beginning of the academic year in September. Most of the protests have been in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi or in opposition to interim authorities.

The engineering students' coalition at Al-Azhar announced that they would boycott upcoming mid-year examinations if their demands, which include the sacking of the university's president Osama El-Abed, were not met.

"[El-Abed] has more than once allowed the breach of the university campus [by security forces] and has turned a blind eye to the violation," the group said in a statement Saturday.

A student was killed last month in clashes between pro-Morsi students and security forces near campus.

Security forces have entered the campus more than once since the start of the school year in October in an attempt to quell defiant pro-Morsi student protests. Dozens of students have been injured or arrested in the past two months.

Last week, the Egyptian interior ministry said security forces justified its breach of campus saying they were asked to intervene by El-Abd.

The coalition is also demanding that security forces are prohibited from entering or surrounding the university campus as well as the dormitories; the immediate release of detained students and the halting of extraordinary disciplinary measures against politically active students; the immediate investigation into the violence; and the return of the elected student union and all other student activities halted by the university administration.

The university administration has insisted that examinations will be held as scheduled on 28 December.

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