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Police to be deployed at Al-Azhar campus in Cairo

Al-Azhar University requests police to be stationed on campus as it is a 'special case' after student protests broke out frequently last semester

Ahram Online, Sunday 21 Sep 2014
Protesters gather amidst remnants of teargas smoke during clashes with riot police at Al-Azhar University in Cairo October 20, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Police will be deployed on the campus of Al-Azhar University this semester despite an earlier assertion by the prime minister that suggested otherwise, the university's vice president told Al-Ahram on Sunday.

Ahmed Hosni said the university had requested police personnel from the interior ministry for the new academic semester, due to start on 11 October.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said last week that no police guards would be stationed on Egyptian campuses – only administrative security which is unaffiliated with the interior ministry.

However, Hosni said that university presidents had the right to request police as they see fit, saying Al-Azhar was special as it saw serious political clashes last year and has a high percentage of Muslim Brotherhood sympathisers.

"A number of student dormitories will open two or three weeks after the start of the semester due to maintenance work, and will receive fewer students than usual," he added.

A ruling by the State Council in 2010 banned the interior ministry's security guards from entering campuses.

However, police repeatedly entered campuses to disperse protests which occurred almost daily during the last academic year, following Islamist president Mohamed Morsi's ouster.

The protests often turned into violent standoffs with security forces, with 14 students killed in the on-campus clashes.

Hundreds of students have been jailed for illegal protesting or causing violence. Similar amounts have been suspended or expelled for protesting.

A protest law issued by interim authorities last November banned all demonstrations not pre-approved by the police.

Meanwhile, Cairo University has banned student political activities. University president Gaber Nasser said last week that groups affiliated with the Constitution Party, the Strong Egypt Party and the Salafist Nour Party had been frozen.


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