Ahmed Zewail (C) speaking to journalists in Cairo in 2011 (Photo: Sherif Tarek)
Egyptian security forces raided a peaceful sit-in by Nile University students on Monday, leaving many angry and some critical of scientist Ahmed Zeweil, who is locked in a dispute with the students over access to the university land and facilities.
"What happened today at Nile University tells Egypt's youth that no revolution had taken place," said Ayman El-Sayad, a journalist and one of President Morsi's newly-appointed advisors.
Students and faculty members of the private, not-for-profit Nile University (NU) started the sit-in on 28 August to demand their campus back after it had been transferred to prominent chemist Ahmed Zeweil. The sit-in was violently dispersed by security forces on Monday; around four students were arrested and dozens injured during the raid.
The land and facilities which the students are demanding be restored to the university was given to Zewail City for Science and Technology (ZCST), which is managed by Ahmed Zewail, after the revolution.
Dispute over the land ensued as NU students were left without a campus when former prime minister Ahmed Nazif, who had granted their university its land, was imprisoned facing corruption charges.
Earlier on Sunday, students locked the main gates of Zeweil City for Science and Technology to express their disapproval of the decree issued by the Cabinet committee concerned with the dilemma, which gave Zeweil the right to use the university's premises while the students use the headquarters of nearby Mubarak City University instead, until a permanent solution is reached.
"Zeweil claims to have not interfered with the dispersal decision, yet it was Salah Azazi, the head of security at his science and technology city, who was present during the dispersal," said NU engineering student Charle Lutfallah.
Ahmed Zewail, who had previously refused to comment on the crisis, broke his silence on Monday.
"I personally have not interfered in the decision of the Cabinet committee and was hoping that they would reach a final decision without problems," said Zewail, using his account on social media site Twitter.
The chairman of Zewail City for Science and Technology stressed that he had asked for violence not to be used against students.
Television anchor and journalist Hamdi Qandil put the blame on the prominent scientist, stressing than no educational project should be established over the ruins of another.
"The violent assault on NU students is mainly the responsibility of Ahmed Zewail himself," said Qandil, also on Twitter.
Also condemning the attack on the peaceful sit-in was the liberal Free Egyptians Party, which urged the immediate release of the arrested students.
In addition, the 6 April Youth Movement called for a protest on Tuesday in front of Nile University in 6 October City on the outskirts of Cairo, in solidarity with the NU students.