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Islamist protests persist on Egypt campuses

Morsi's loyalists maintain almost daily protests at Egyptian universities in a bid to force concessions from interim authorities

Ahram Online , Monday 28 Oct 2013
Azhar University
Students supporting deposed president Mohamed Morsi protest at Al-Azhar University, Egypt, Cairo, Sunday, 27 October, 2013 (Photo: Ahram)

Hundreds of students on Sunday at Al-Azhar University – highest seat of Sunni Islam learning – staged a late-night protest on the main campus in northeast Cairo to demand the reinstatement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and the return of the suspended 2012 Islamist-drafted constitution.

Angry students shouted anti-army and anti-leadership slogans, condemning university leaders for endorsing what they called the "coup" against Egypt's first freely-elected president. Students carried aloft pictures of students who were killed in a mid-August violent dispersal of two major Islamist protest camps in Cairo -- one of which was staged in the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square, a short walk from the university.

Morsi backers have decried his ouster as a coup and a violation of democracy, but the army said it had responded to the people's will after millions protested in mass nationwide demonstrations against Morsi's divisive one-year rule.

Elsewhere in Cairo, groups of pro-Morsi students transferred their Cairo University protest to the nearby Al-Nahda Square -- site of the second protest camp forcibly dispersed by security mid-August. Students protested, amid high security, against the detention of several fellow students during recent political unrest.

Protests were also reported on campuses outside the capital on the same day, including Al-Azhar’s branch in Al-Gharbiya as well as Tanta University.
University heads said studies would carry on despite the incessant demonstrations.

A sustained clampdown by security forces on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has severely undermined the group's ability to muster street support, prompting them to turn sights on campuses, usual hotbeds of political activism in recent years.

Most of the Brotherhood's upper echelons have been arrested along with thousands of Islamist followers. Morsi himself has been detained and is due to stand trial on 4 November over charges of inciting violence.

The political schism between opposing students has also led to recurrent clashes, causing numerous injuries and several arrests since the start of the new academic year in late September.

The latest clashes between students erupted on Sunday afternoon in Cairo's Helwan University after pro-Morsi protesters chanted anti-army slogans, state news agency MENA reported.

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