El-Sisi promises bigger role for youth in Cairo University speech

Ahram Online , Sunday 28 Sep 2014

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi says university institutions are for education and not 'malicious' activities

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (Photo:Ahram)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said 50 percent of "specialised councils" to be formed under the auspices of the presidency will belong to Egypt's youth, Al-Ahram's Arabic new website reported.

Speaking at a ceremony at Cairo University to honour 27 top students from universities nationwide, El-Sisi confessed Egypt wasn't "able to provide real channels of communication with its youth."

"I want Egypt's youth to be by my side," he said. "I love Egypt's youth and consider them my children."

The president said the councils will have an active role in the presidency, ministries and Egyptian governorates and urged young Egyptians to take part in national projects such as the Suez Canal project currently underway.

He warned students, however, of participating in "malicious" activities, urging them to view universities as a place solely for education.

El-Sisi arrived at the university on Sunday evening amid tight security via helicopter. The speech wasn't aired live on television.

Several main streets were closed off and security personnel were deployed in the streets of the university's adjacent neighbourhoods of Giza and Bein Al-Sarayat.

News website Aswat Masriya, founded by Reuters, reported that El-Sisi promised to double the number of students granted scholarships abroad.

Reports said the university's faculty and staff were given two days vacation due to the president's visit.

In attendance at El-Sisi's speech were the presidents of the public and private universities whose students were being honoured, along with ministers and governors.

El-Sisi said in his speech that the ceremony will be an annual one, adding that Egyptian universities represent a "home for national experience that leads our society to resurgence and advancement."

Egypt's newly formed council of experts was intentionally comprised of Egyptian university graduates, he remarked.

The president's speech comes at the same time as a new university draft law has come under fire for allowing the arbitrary sacking of faculty members and also recent moves by the ministry of education against political activity on campuses.

Several Egyptian universities were embroiled in clashes between students supporting ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and security forces during the last academic year. Tens of students were tried and given sentences for vandalism and rioting.

During his speech, El-Sisi stressed the media's important role in reflecting the "values of the Egyptian state and its ancient civilization, to protect youth from incorrect ideas in an age where the outlets of exchanging information are many," reported Aswat Masriya.

El-Sisi also saluted former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel-Nasser on the anniversary of his death, 28 September.

This was the first speech for El-Sisi at Cairo University's famous Grand Celebrations Hall, from where Egypt's four previous presidents spoke.

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