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Wednesday, 04 August 2021

Detention orders renewed for 174 Al-Azhar students over 'riots'

Scores of Al-Azhar students accused of rioting on the Cairo campus are kept in detention for a further 15 days

ElSayed Gamal Eldeen, Saturday 11 Jan 2014
Al-Azhar University students who support deposed President Mohamed Morsi, shout slogans and dance in front of riot police during clashes at the university's campus in Cairo's Nasr City district December 29, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Cairo's prosecution ordered detained for 15 additional days Saturday pending investigations 174 Al-Azhar University students for alleged involvement in riots that took place on the Cairo campus 28, 29 and 30 December.

The arrested students are charged with rioting, violations against security forces, destruction of public property and resisting arrest.

On 28 December, the first day of end of semester exams, fierce clashes broke out pro-Morsi students, angry over the death of a colleague a day earlier, locked the gates of the university and attempted to bar others from attending exams.

The protesting students reportedly raided and set on fire campus buildings belonging to the faculties of commerce and agriculture. Police fired teargas to disperse the crowds.

Khaled El-Hadad, a student, was killed and exams postponed as violence continued for two days.

Universities have witnessed similar clashes in other governorates, including Sharqiya and Daqahliya in the Nile Delta, and the southern city of Assiut, prompting university administrations to postpone end-of-term exams at several institutions.

On Saturday, another 28 students were detained for a further 15 days pending investigations. They stand accused of illegal assembly, vandalising public properties, and possessing bladed weapons during clashes at Al-Azhar's Cairo campus 30 October. They are also accused of being members of a terrorist group.

On Thursday, a Cairo court sentenced 26 pro-Morsi Al-Azhar students to two and a half years in jail. The students, arrested in clashes in November, were convicted, in two separate cases, on charges of rioting, obstructing the state, sabotaging public facilities, resisting authorities, use of force, violence and thuggery.

A total of four Al-Azhar students has been killed in clashes since the start of the new academic year, according to spokesperson of the Forensic Authority Hisham Abdel Hamid.

Since Mohamed Morsi's ouster hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, members and sympathisers were sent behind bars.

On 25 December, the interim government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, accusing it of links with recent attacks on state institutions and on churches since Morsi's ouster.

The Islamist group denies the accusations.

Interior ministry officials have warned that anyone taking part in pro-Brotherhood protests after its designation as a terrorist organisation will be punished with five years in jail, while protest leaders might face the death penalty.

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