Fresh clashes between Al-Azhar students and police

Ahram Online, Monday 9 Dec 2013

Security forces fire teargas at pro-Brotherhood students at Al-Azhar University, protesters retaliate with Molotov cocktails

Riot police officers advance towards protesters at Al-Azhar University
Riot police officers advance towards protesters at Al-Azhar University during clashes in Cairo October 20, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Security forces have clashed with pro-Brotherhood students at Al-Azhar University in the latest round of violence at the prestigious seat of Islamic learning.

Fifty-eight students were arrested during the clashes on Monday, a security source said.

Al-Azhar students "blocked the road and attacked civilians and security forces with rocks and Molotov cocktails," according to a statement by the interior ministry.

"The university president called for police to enter the campus to save lives and buildings," the statement added.

Commerce faculty student union leader Osama Zeid said students had been marching peacefully when security forces entered the campus.

Students threw Molotov cocktails at a central security forces truck and a microbus, and set fire to four private vehicles, a security official said.

Tires and tree branches were set alight to mitigate the effect of the teargas.

Dozens of students fainted due to teargas inhalation, Mohammed Sharaf, a third-year student, told Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

Locals, meanwhile, threw bottles at the students from nearby rooftops and dragged students from their apartments.

Roads near the university were blocked and traffic was diverted due to the clashes.

Security forces have cordoned off the Al-Azhar campus, and deployed armoured police vehicles at the gates.

Monday's clashes follow fierce confrontations on Sunday evening between pro-Morsi Al-Azhar students and civilian opponents near the university dormitories in Nasr City.

Female Al-Azhar students marched from the campus to Nasr City on Monday afternoon. Security forces gathered in the area to prevent them gathering at Rabaa Al-Adawiya where hundreds of Morsi supporters were killed on 14 August.

The protesters held banners with the pro-Morsi four-finger sign and banners reading "Free girls of Al-Azhar."

From the start of the academic year in September, pro-Morsi student protests have taken place at a number of campuses across the country. Al-Azhar University has witnessed violent clashes between security forces and students in recent weeks.

Students have been protesting for days to denounce the detention of their colleagues at earlier demonstrations.

In November, a pro-Morsi student was shot dead during clashes with security forces at Al-Azhar University.

Police deny using anything but water cannons and teargas to disperse student protests.

Meanwhile, Al-Azhar University head Osama El-Abd has said mid-year examinations will take place in late-December "with no delays or disruptions."

In November, the interim government issued a law allowing security forces to enter campuses without permission from university presidents or prosecutors.

Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was deposed by the military amid mass protests on 3 July.

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