43 Al-Azhar students referred to Misdemeanour Court

Elsayed Gamal El-Deen, Sunday 10 Nov 2013

Al-Azhar students allegedly involved in campus violence during pro-Morsi demonstrations to face trial

Clashes at Al-Azhar University between students and security forces in Cairo on October 20, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's prosecutor general ordered Sunday that 43 students of Al-Azhar University be sent to a Misdmeanour Court.

The defendents are accused of causing riots on campus 26 October.

On 26 October at least 25 people were arrested after police entered Al-Azhar campus and fired teargas after pro-Morsi protesters stormed an adminstration building. However, according to the lawyer representing the students, only eight were Al-Azhar University students.

Egypt's university campuses have been witnessing tense and sometimes violent demonstrations since the new academic year commenced September. Pro-Morsi students have been protesting against the interim government, saying the army staged a "coup" against the country's first freely-elected president when it deposed him in July amid mass protests against his rule.

In late September, four students were expelled from Cairo University for "assaulting" former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, who was on campus for a thesis presentation. Chaos broke out as pro-Morsi students shouted insults and expletives at the cleric, and held up their shoes as a sign of disrespect. Gomaa left shortly afterwards.

Earlier in September, a proposal issued by the Supreme Council of Universities to grant powers of arrest to university security guards stirred controversy. The interim cabinet sidestepped the proposal, which had sparked fears of a return to a policy of intimidating politically active students.

In 2010, Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court upheld a ruling removing police from university campuses, who were notorious for their heavy-handed tactics against students.

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