Faculty members to protest despite scrapping of university law

Osman El-Sharnoubi, Sunday 12 Oct 2014

Amendments to the controversial university law amendments were dismissed by Egypt's State Council on Saturday

9th of March Professors
File Photo: 9th of March Professors stand in Cairo University 9th of March Professors stand in Cairo University (Photo: Zeinab El-Gundy)

Faculty members will protest on Monday against an amendment to Egypt's university law, despite the fact that it was dismissed by a top court on Saturday.

Founding member of 9 March Movement for the Independence of Universities, Hani El-Husseini said despite the State Council's decision, the movement will still hold a planned protest on Monday inside the Cairo University campus.

"The judiciary has done its job and that's something that should be expected, it has nothing to do with our protest to demand the government to abandon attempts to trample freedoms," he told Ahram Online.

Egypt's State Council dismissed a proposed amendment drafted by the Egyptian government to the university law which sanctioned university presidents to fire faculty and staff members.

The court, which arbitrates disputes on government decisions, said the decision comes due to the "legislative consistency ruling that faculty members be fired only via the decisions of the disciplinary committee," reported state-affiliated daily Al-Ahram.

The revoked bill had bypassed the interrogation process and evaluation of a disciplinary committee necessary to penalise university teachers for violations of the law.

These violations include "every action that violates the honor of the faculty member," and a trove of newly added clauses including inciting violence, participating in protests that hinder academic life and bringing weapons and explosives inside campuses.

Husseini says the government must issue a statement announcing it will not amend the university law.

Contrary to Husseini's wishes, Adly Reda, the University of Higher Education's media consultant, revealed to Ahram Online the ministry's plans to overhaul the entire law.

He criticised scrutiny of the rejected bill as unfounded and insisted that any draft law will be subject to discussions and review by university faculty.

The proposed amendments come on the back of violent clashes between students supporting ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and police during last school year. 

The amendments would have given the president arbitrary power to sack faculty members based on mere suspicion using articles that are vague in defining violations, Moustafa Kamel El-Sayyed, a Cairo University professor told Ahram Online.

"The amendments included crimes penalised by criminal law, why include them in the university law?" he asked.

The amendment did away with the principle of proportionality in punishment and the teachers' right to a just and fair hearing, Ahmed Ezzat, head of the legal division of free speech advocate organisation and Egyptian universities watchdog Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression said.

In addition to 9 March, which opposed state infringement on university freedoms since the regime of Hosni Mubarak, the amendment was also opposed by the state-friendly Egypt's Scientists' Syndicate.

The silent demonstration planned by 9 March was approved by Cairo University President Gaber Nassar.

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