Egypt student rebellion at Al-Azhar University against the ongoing rule by the military. The incident took place on October 20, 2013., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Academic year at Azhar University crippled by anti-army protests
Ayat Al-Tawy , Sunday 20 Oct 2013
Pro-Morsi protests at Al-Azhar University hinder start of classes, trigger turmoil and lead to the arrest of seven students
Several hundred students on Sunday protested at Al-Azhar University's two Cairo campuses against what they called the "coup" that toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, as well as "security interference" in academic affairs.
Seven students were arrested, security sources told Ahram Online.
Demonstrators also called for the release of fellow students rounded up during the political unrest that followed Morsi's ouster, state news agency MENA said.
Security forces were deployed outside the university headquarters to quell the protests. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd in the vicinity of the campus after protesters reportedly tried to march to the nearby Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque -- site of a major pro-Morsi protest camp which was forcibly dispersed mid-August, leaving hundreds dead.
Eyewitnesses said protesting students blocked off the Al-Nasr Road in northeast Cairo's Nasr City district, where Al-Azhar's main campus is located.
"Dozens are protesting here in Al-Darrassa Campus. They are cursing the administration, the professors and Al-Azhar's Grand Imam," medicine professor Mohamed Abdel-Fattah told Ahram Online.
Although television footage showed a number of students hurling stones at security forces from inside the university grounds, assistant lecturer Osama Refaat told Ahram Online that "the crowding is only outside the campus. Everything inside is entirely stable and without tension. I have been here for an hour and I haven't seen any fighting on campus."
Student activists affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood were not immediately available for comment.
A sustained clampdown by security forces on the Brotherhood has severely crippled the group's ability to muster street support, prompting them to turn sights on campuses, usual hotbeds of political activism.
Thousands of students sympathising with Morsi and his Brotherhood have staged protests at universities in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities since the start of the new academic year late September, and many have been arrested, security forces said.
The political schism between opposing students has also led to recurrent clashes, causing numerous injuries and several detentions.
The Sunday demonstration comes in the second day of the start of classes at the prestigious university -- the highest authority of Sunni Islam -- already twice delayed on security grounds, and despite warnings by administrators against political activities at the university.
University President Osama El-Abed had urged students on Saturday to commit to acquiring knowledge and withdraw from on-campus political activism.
On Saturday, hundreds of the university students staged demonstrations at the Nasr City campus and blocked the Al-Nasr Road to decry the "coup," call for the return of the deposed president and demand the dismissal of Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb. No demonstrations were reported on the other Cairo campus.
El-Tayeb, along with other religious and political figures, hadendorsed Morsi's ouster, appearing on TV alongside army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and other political and religious figureswhen the latter announced the move on 3 July.
Morsi's backers have decried his ouster as a coup and a violation of democracy, but the army said it had responded to the people's will after millions protested against Morsi's divisive year-long rule.
MENA quoted El-Abed on Sunday as saying a delay of classes is on the cards if turmoil persists.
Police did not raid Al-Azhar University: Egypt's interior ministry
Ahram Online , Sunday 20 Oct 2013
Interior ministry says it used tear gas against pro-Morsi students after they blocked roads and rioted outside Al-Azhar University, denying television reports that police raided campus
Egypt's interior ministry denied Sunday its forces raided Al-Azhar University, saying police only fired teargas at Islamist students after they rioted outside the university gates and blocked roads around campus to traffic.
In a statement Sunday, the ministry said around 3,000 students supporting deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi blocked Al-Nasr Road and verbally assaulted riot police.
"Security forces tried for almost half an hour to lure them into opening the road, but they insisted on their position," the interior ministry statement recounted.
Several hundred students protested Sunday at Al-Azhar University's two Cairo campuses against what they called the "coup" that toppled Islamist president Morsi. At least seven students were arrested and a policeman was injured, according to security sources.
The prestigious Al-Azhar University belongs to Al-Azhar Institution, the highest authority of Sunni Islam.
Students shouted anti-police slogans, threw stones at forces stationed outside the university gates, and set fire to a rubbish bin outside the university gates, leading forces to respond with tear gas, added a statement carried on the interior ministry's official Facebook page.
A security source said TV footage broadcast on the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Qatar-based Al-Jazeera channel of security forces raiding the campus was "entirely untrue," according to the ministry statement.
Assistant Lecturer Osama Refaat who was present on campus at the time of the clashes told Ahram Online that neither side entered the university grounds and that classes were being held normally.
"Everything inside is entirely stable and there is no tension. I have been here for an hour and I haven't seen any fighting on campus," Refaat said.
Eyewitnesses told Ahram Arabic news website that calm had been restored in the area and traffic movement resumed after hours-long disruption.
Despite disorder in the first two days of studies at the university — the semester already delayed twice on security grounds — an official said there was no intention for further delay to classes, despite earlier statements by University President Osama El-Abed to the contrary.
"Studies will continue, even with the continuation of the demonstration," Al-Azhar Deputy President Ibrahim Hudhud said in television comments Sunday. "A small faction will not act against the interests of more than 400,000 students," he added.
Elsewhere in Cairo, tens of pro-Morsi students staged a protest at Cairo University to demand an end to the "military coup," with minor clashes reported.
Security forces have severely cracked down on Morsi's now-banned Muslim Brotherhood since his removal. Morsi and senior Brotherhood leaders have been detained on varied allegations, including inciting violence.
The political schism between opposing students has also led to recurrent clashes, causing numerous injuries and several arrests since the start of the new academic year in late September.