16 Al-Azhar students sentenced to 3 years in prison

Ahram Online, Saturday 22 Mar 2014

The students were charged with rioting, thuggery, blocking roads, and attacking police officers, among other charges

AL Azhar
A student of Al-Azhar University, who is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and deposed President Mohamed Mursi, throws a stone during clashes with riot police and residents of the area at the Al-Azhar University campus in the Nasr City district December 27, 2013. (Photo:Reuters )

Nasr City appeals court has sentenced 16 Al-Azhar students to three years in prison for clashes on 9,10, and 28 December.

The students were charged with rioting, thuggery, blocking roads, attacking police officers, resisting the authorities, protesting without a permit, joining an armed terrorist gang that aims to disrupt national peace and security, possession of Molotov cocktails, and destroying public and private property.

The students were protesting what they described as a military coup, demanding the reinstatement of ousted Morsi, condemning the arrests of other protesting students, and the police's treatment of student protesters.

A series of verdicts against Al-Azhar students have been issued lately.

On Thursday, 17 Al-Azhar students were sentenced to 14 years in jail on charges of storming the university's headquarters, rioting, damaging public property, burning nine vehicles and attacking security personnel and Al-Azhar staff. They were also fined LE90,000 ($13,000) each.

Last November, 12 Al-Azhar students were sentenced to 17 years in prison on similar charges of rioting, in addition to being fined LE64,000 ($9,200) each.

Al-Azhar University, the highest seat of Sunni Islamic learning, has been the site of severe cases of violence since the July 2013 ouster of islamist presdient Mohamed Morsi, with clashes frequently occurring between pro-Morsi students and security forces at the university's campuses in Cairo and other cities.

Students were at the forefront of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood's resistance to interim authorities, after a security crackdown on Islamist demonstrators rounded up thousands of Brotherhood members, including the group's top leadership.

The near-daily clashes at universities caused authorities to issue decrees allowing security forces on campuses and granting university administrators the right to expel protesting students.

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