Islamist students protest against Al-Azhar University violence

Ahram Online, Thursday 21 Nov 2013

Following Wednesday violence at Al-Azhar University that left one dead, students across Egypt hold rallies in protest

Student protest at Al-Azhar University in November, (Photo: Al-Ahram).

Hundreds of students protested in Egyptian universities nationwide on Thursday, condemning the Wednesday violence at Cairo's Al-Azhar University that left one dead, according Egypt's state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA).

Following the popularly-backed military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July, Morsi supporters have organised near-daily demonstrations against the country's new authorities. With the start of the school year, the country's universities have been at the heart of the political turmoil.

On Thursday, scores of Morsi supporters gathered in front of Cairo University's Faculty of Science, denouncing the death of the Al-Azhar student killed a day earlier by security forces. Police stormed the prestigious center of Sunni Islamic instruction on Wednesday, firing teargas and birdshot at pro-Morsi students armed with Molotov cocktails, bricks, and stones. Sixteen students were arrested in the clashes.

Cairo University students chanted against Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb and against Egypt's military. Scuffles erupted with students supporting the country's interim leaders before university guards intervened to separate the two camps.

Morsi supporters later continued their protest outside the university, blocking the road in front of a nearby metro station. Small fights erupted with passing drivers.

At Al-Azhar University, in eastern Cairo, dozens of students also protested to denounce the death of their colleague, raising portraits of slain and detained students.

Dozens of engineering students at Ein Shams University also organised protests, calling for the release of detained colleagues amidst strengthened security measures. "As long as the students' blood is cheap, there will be no university," the protesters chanted, calling for a strike and temporarily blocking a main road leading to Cairo's international airport.

In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, dozens of students organised a march in protest of Wednesday's events, blocking the main road along the sea. They held banners picturing a hand raising four fingers, a symbol used to commemorate the mid-August security dispersal of two pro-Morsi sit-ins that left hundreds dead.

Also on Thursday, Egypt's prosecution interrogated the 16 students arrested during Wednesday's clashes and ordered a national security investigation into the violence, Al-Ahram's Arabic website reported.

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