Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University suspends classes indefinitely

Ahram Online, Tuesday 10 Dec 2013

No chance for classes to resume anytime soon, as Cairo University becomes focal point for student rage

Cairo University
Cairo University students, who are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, are seen shrouded in tear gas from Egyptian security forces during a clash in front of the main gate of the university, in Cairo December 10, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Cairo University's Faculty of Engineering announced on Tuesday that it was suspending its classes indefinitely due to repeated "unfortunate" events at the university, a reference to ongoing clashes between students and security forces, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported.

Engineering students at the university have been angered over the death of one of their peers, 19-year old Mohamed Reda, who was shot dead in November during clashes with security forces following a student protest. The students have been staging a sit-in since Saturday to demand accountability for Reda's death.

Cairo University has since issued a statement blaming security forces for Reda's death. The Interior Ministry, however, has denied that security forces possess the type of birdshot that killed him.

Since the beginning of the academic term in September, Egyptian universities have been at the heart of the unrest gripping the country since Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July. Pro-Morsi students have organised near-daily protests to call for his reinstatement and denounce the arrest of fellow students in similar demonstrations.

The protests have largely ended in clashes with security forces since a government decree issued in November granted police access to university campuses without prior permission. Police had previously been barred from accessing campuses unless invited by university authorities.

Earlier on Tuesday, clashes erupted near Cairo University, with students throwing rocks at police, who responded with large amounts of tear gas to disperse the protesters and prevent them from leaving the campus, according to a rights NGO which operates at Egyptian universities, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).

The group announced via Twitter that teargas had been fired inside the campus.

Al-Azhar University, a prestigious centre of Islamic instruction, has also witnessed similar clashes in recent weeks.

A misdemeanor court in November sentenced 12 of the university's students to 17 years in prison over previous riots.

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