Second day of student strikes sees educational events

Zeinab El Gundy and Randa Ali , Sunday 12 Feb 2012

Across the country student unions from Egypt's main universities marked day two of strike action with protest marches, cinema screenings, debates and lectures

AUC Students attending activists lecture in AUC
AUC Students attending activists lecture in AUC (Photo:Randa Ali)


For the second day in row university students across the country continued to strike, organise debates and marches aimed at pressurising the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to handover power to a civilian government.

Tens of students at Cairo University held a march on Sunday morning through Cairo University protesting against the ruling military council. However lectures continued as normal across many of the university faculties.

Several students told Ahram Online that it was unclear how many students were on strike as the first week of term, after the midterm vacation, usually sees poor attendance.

The 9 March Movement for the independence of universities organised a protest in front of Cairo University's dome in solidarity with the student-led strike.

 "I can’t be specific about the Cairo University students’ participation in the strikes because in my faculty the registration of courses happens in the first week. I can’t judge how popular the strike is as my students usually do not show up this week," Dr. Laila Soueif, founding member of 9 March Movement, activist and professor at the Faculty of Sciences, told Ahram Online.

Dr. Hala Kamel, a professor of English in the Faculty of Arts told Ahram Online that all the professors, academics and tutors in her department decided to go on strike for three days in solidarity with the student  protest.

The strongest show of support for the strikes and protests came from the Faculty of Economy and Political Sciences. The head of the faculty issued a statement on Saturday announcing that the entire department will go on strike, saying that it would support any student activity provided that the action taken is peaceful. “There is a much higher participation from the professors and tutors in the Economy and Political Sciences Faculty than any of the others in Cairo University," noted student Salma Said.

Hundreds of students from the same faculty organised a short march to Cairo University's dome where they also staged a protest, with anti-SCAF banners bearing the names of slain protesters. A funeral prayer was recited and dedicated to fellow university students who have lost their lives in the ongoing revolution.

Amani Hassan, a Cairo University student, pointed out the high level of participation was because the Economy and Political Sciences students had a higher awareness than most of the uninvolved students at the university, particularly about the real meaning of the strike and how it differed from civil disobedience.

Hassan also commented that many students, outside of the Economy and Political Sciences faculty, were more affected by the inaccurate and misleading information peddled by Egypt's media concerning the strike action.

The head of one of the largest departments in Cairo University, the Faculty of Commerce, decided today to name their halls after faculty members who have lost their lives since the start of the January 25 Revolution.  Although lectures continued uninterrupted, there was a small march dedicated to one of the faculty members who was killed during the Port Said stadium tragedy that saw the deaths of over 70 Ahly football fans.

At the universities of Ain Shams and Helwan, hundreds of students held memorials for fellow students who had been killed during the revolution. Both universities also organised marches against the SCAF.

 Members of the Youth for Freedom and Justice Movement announced that they will hold a special Kazeboon (liars) screening (a reference to the recent pop-up street cinema movement showing videos that document the abuses made by Egypt’s security forces). The event will take place on the university campus during Monday afternoon.

The American University in Cairo (AUC) started its strike on Sunday in memory of their colleague Omar Mohsen who also died in the Port Said stadium disaster.

The administration of the university announced the suspension of classes in solidarity with the strike until Tuesday. As a result, students and professors decided to run a series of educational events during the three days.

Those organising the strike invited the wider AUC community of students and teachers to Kazeboon (liars) screenings. They also hosted a number of public figures and ran a series of lectures by AUC professors.

The strike was launched with a discussion panel headed up by renowned activist and journalist Rasha Azab of the Popular Committees for Defense of the Revolution and Hossam El-Hamalawy of the Revolutionary Socialists.  

The guest speakers discussed the importance of general strikes during the uprising and the role of the SCAF in aborting the ongoing revolution. The event was followed up with lectures conducted by a number of AUC faculty staff such as Khaled Fahmy, Rabab El-Mahdy and Pascale Ghazaleh.

The AUC strike movement aims to continue inviting public figures over the course of the next three days, including the author Belal Fadl and Ghada Shahbandar of the Egyptian Organisation of Human Rights.

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