Egpyt's Al-Azhar University to reopen dorms this week

Ahram Online , Sunday 9 Nov 2014

Student dorms at Islamic university were a hot spot for student protests in the last academic year

Police run towards Azhar University
Egypt's security forces run towards the main entrance of Al-Azhar University to disperse protesters there in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)

The dormitories at Al-Azhar University, a hotspot for student protests, will open their doors in the next few days, said the university's deputy president Ahmed Hosni.

Al-Azhar's student dorms were the scene of recurring protests and clashes during the last academic year, as students mostly in favour of president Mohamed Morsi squared off with security forces to denounce his ouster in July 2013. Tens of students were arrested, while others were expelled.

The dormitories have remained closed, despite lectures at the university starting on 11 October.

Hosni said only students who fit the university's rules and restrictions will be allowed into the dorms, with female students given priority, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.

The university has already conducted security checks on all dormitory applicants, with "only those who really want to learn accepted," said Hosni.

Due to unfinished maintenance in five dormitory buildings, 30 percent fewer students will be housed this year, according to Hosni.

Hosni's statements come only a few hours after security forces fired teargas bombs against students protesting at Al-Azhar University, the oldest Islamic university in the world.

Dozens of students organised two separate rallies on Sunday in the faculties of medicine and humanitarian studies to protest the university's decision to allow security forces to enter the campus and to call for detained students to be released and those expelled to be allowed back.

Hosni said that students have succeeded in sneaking fireworks onto the campus during the night, despite newly tightened security measures.

Al-Azhar University and Cairo University saw some of the worst violence during last year's student protests. Authorities contracted a private security firm to guard over a dozen public universities nationwide at the start of the academic term in October.

However, the year began with students attacking and destroying the company's electronic gates at some universities, while ensuing clashes at Alexandria University left a student dead. In an unprecedented incident, last week the army, which was recently mandated by president El-Sisi to support police protect public institutions, stormed Mansoura University to dispel a student protest.

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