No return to Mubarak-era university guards: Govt official

Ahram Online, Tuesday 14 Oct 2014

Students have rejected a move to install private security guards at Egyptian universities, fearing a return to Mubarak-era repression of political activities on campuses

Personnel from Falcon, a private security company, conduct searches as students arrive for a new academic year at the main gate of Al-Azhar University during a protest conducted by a pro-Muslim Brotherhood student movement known as the Students Against the Coup, in Nasr City district October 12, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

An interior ministry spokesman has said police will only deal with "illegal acts" on university campuses, after renewed clashes with students took place during the first days of a new academic year.

Speaking to El-Mehwar television channel, Hani Abdel-Latif said on Monday that "university guards in their old form will not return."

Security on university campuses was infamous during the three-decade rule of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. Surveillance and restrictions stirred student anger against the government.

But after a tumulus academic year, where supporters of toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi protested daily, the intervention of police was deemed necessary by university heads and authorities. At least 14 students were killed during protests at various universities during the last academic year and hundreds of others were injured or arrested.

On the first day of the new academic year, students demonstrated against the personnel of a private security firm, Falcon, which had been hired to guard the gates at Al-Azhar University, leading to the destruction of new electronic security gates.

Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim ordered police to guard the campus of Al-Azhar University, where some of the worst violence took place last year. Police will be based at the gates of Cairo University, along with Falcon security guards.

"Policemen will only deal with illegal acts, and thus they will be present outside the campus," Abdel-Latif said, speaking of universities other than Al-Azhar, "and will only step inside if necessary."

He said police only use teargas.

"There will be direct dealing with any kind of chaos to protect the students who want to learn, the staff and the installations.


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