Egypt's Nile University crisis continues as students resume sit-in

Yasmine Wali, Tuesday 18 Sep 2012

24 hours after police used forceto disperse them, Nile University students have resumed their sit-in in the garden outside the campus, and one professor told Ahram Online he plans to hold his classes there

Nile University Ambulance takes a Mother of Nile University student who faints from the situation inside the sit in on Monday. (Photo: Dr.Mahmoud Allam)

Nile University students continued their sit-in in front of the university campus in the 6 of October city on Monday, despite having been dispersed from the campus by Central Security Forces earlier in the day.

The sit-in began on 28 August as a result of a conflict between Nile University (NU), a private, not-for-profit institution, and the Zewail City for Science and Technology (ZCST), which was granted the NU campus after the revolution. The sit-in by NU staff, students, and students' parents was launched to protest the ongoing situation as well as subsequent government decisions which reiterated the grant of NU campus and facilities to the ZCST, which is managed by prominent Egyptian chemist and Nobel Laureate Ahmed Zewail.

The raid on the sit-in by police armed with riot shields and batons was slated by NU protesters as lacking legality, and Nile University president Tarek Khalil resigned in protest at the violent attack.

Rawya El-Daby, media spokesperson of  ZCST, commented: "The [NU] students are making a big show. They are the ones who were verbally abusing us, saying we are thieves and thugs, then they throw themselves on the floor and whenever someone reaches for them they make it look as if they were dragged."

Mahmoud Allam, a founding member of NU and a computer engineering professor, told Ahram Online: "There are other forces who want to close down this research entity [NU]".

According to Allam, the decision on Sunday by a Cabinet committee formed to solve the campus crisis, which has not been officially issued yet and was only communicated orally, states that NU students and faculty are to use the premises of Mubarak City, an educational programme for children that is already occupied and not well-equipped in comparison with the NU's research facilities.

Earlier on Saturday, Higher Education Minister Mustafa Mosaad had told the Al-Nahar satellite channel that NU students would be able to use their old campus for one year until a permanent solution was found. This decision was then overturned by the Cabinet committee, NU engineering student Charle Lutfallah told Ahram Online on Monday.

In addition, NU's contract for office space with business park Smart Village expired at the end of August.

"So Nile University is left with no option for resuming education, except...the campus, which the government took away from us," said Allam.

"Let the government be kind and spare us the agony and pain, and issue a presidential decree to close down the university," the founding member added.

Nile University has appealed in various courts over the last year, including the state council, in an attempt to resolve the crisis, yet no court verdicts have been issued.

The first lawsuit seeking restoration of the land was filed 14 months ago.

Allam plans to start teaching his classes in the garden where the students are staging their sit-in.

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