New Al-Azhar food poisoning incident 'premeditated': official

Ahram Online, Tuesday 21 May 2013

Ahmed Hosni, deputy of Al-Azhar University in Tanta, says third recent case of food poisoning at university dorm was premeditated act aimed at 'tarnishing' Al-Azhar's reputation

Deputy of Al-Azhar University in Tanta Ahmed Hosni has alleged that dinner served at one of the university's dormitories in Cairo had been intentionally  'poisoned,' but maintains that the dormitory's kitchen staff was not responsible.

"University kitchens use natural gas, not kerosene," Hosni told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website on Tuesday. "The kerosene found in the beans served to students in the Nasr City dormitories means that the kerosene was put in the food by someone not from our staff."

Dormitory residents reportedly claimed they could smell kerosene in the fuul (beans) served at dinner on Monday evening. Dozens of students protested the incident outside their dormitories in Cairo's Nasr City district.

"Whoever put kerosene in the food is trying to tarnish the university's reputation," Hosni alleged.

An official Al-Azhar dormitories source had earlier said that initial tests had shown no contamination had taken place, asserting that the smell of kerosene may have come from a gas stove on which the beans had been cooked.

The latest incident represents the third food poisoning scandal to take place at Al-Azhar University within recent months.

On 1 April, over 500 students were hospitalised with food poisoning after eating on campus. Less than one month later, 161 students became ill following a second food poisoning incident.

The twin scandal prompted mass demonstrations by students, some of whom called for the sacking of Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb, who oversees the Al-Azhar religious-educational system in Egypt.

On Wednesday, the trial began for ten individuals accused of responsibility for the 1 April mass food poisoning incident.  

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