Police to enter universities during exam time, if necessary: Minister

Ahram Online , Thursday 3 Apr 2014

Egypt's minister of higher education says police might once again enter campuses during exams to ensure security if unrest worsens

Cairo University Explosion
Security forces deployed outside of Cairo university following a blast that killed a Brigadier-general and injured five police officers, Giza, Egypt, April 2, 2014 (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Egypt's higher education minister said that security forces might enter university grounds to ensure security during the end-of-year exams if unrest continues on campuses nationwide.

Police might be enlisted to secure the exams, slated for late May, as was the case in the first semester, when violence at universities reached its peak, higher education minister Wael El-Degwy said in a televised interview on Wednesday.

Egyptian universities have become a hub for protests held by supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi amid a months-long government crackdown that has largely crippled their demonstrations elsewhere. The near daily protests in which pro-Morsi students rally against Egypt's interim authorities have often descended into violence, turning campuses into a flashpoint for clashes between riot police and students.

"The violence is aimed to hinder studies but … we are going on to fight terrorism," El-Degwy said, noting that there are no plans to postpone the exams.

Late in February, a Cairo court ruled that police should once again be permanently deployed on campuses – three years after universities were barred off to security forces, which are notorious for their strong-armed tactics.

But the minister says that he is opposed to bringing police back on campus at a time of simmering tensions, arguing that it would lead to increasing friction with students.

On Wednesday, three bombs targeting riot police went off near Cairo University in the centre of the capital, killing one police general and injuring five other officers. The bombings were the latest in a spate of deadly attacks targeting army and police since the military's ouster of Morsi last summer following mass protests against his single year in office.

El-Degwy said he expects the violence to worsen amid attempts by what he alluded to as Morsi's Islamist supporters, who he said were trying to stall the country's transitional road map that will see a presidential poll late in May.


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