Sunday, April 28, 2013

Egyptian Students Demand the Resignation of Higher Education Minister

Egypt students rally to demand sacking of higher education minister

Ahram Online, Sunday 28 Apr 2013

Hundreds of Egyptian university students protest deteriorating on-campus services and security, demand dismissal of higher education minister Mostafa Mosaad

Hundreds of students on Sunday protested the state of education in Egypt during nationwide demonstrations called for by several opposition groups.

Groups that endorsed the protest included the Socialist Popular Alliance, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Strong Egypt Party and the Egyptian Popular Current.

Dozens of students marched from Cairo University to cabinet headquarters in downtown Cairo chanting: "Dignity, freedom and free quality education."

According to one Ahram Online reporter on the scene, protesters included students from Cairo, Ain Shams, Helwan and Al-Azhar universities.

According to Mahmoud Nawar, Revolutionary Socialist member and Helwan University student, students demand the release of colleagues detained by authorities and the provision of free education by the state.

A number of students were recently arrested from their homes on charges of thuggery and suspicions that they belonged to the anarchist 'Black Bloc' group.

Protesting students also demand punishment of those responsible for attacking students on campus in several universities and the dismissal of Egypt's higher education minister.

Recent weeks have seen several incidents in which students were attacked on campus.

Last week, 'thugs' reportedly attacked Ain Shams University students marching from Cairo's Nour Mosque to demand tighter campus security and an end to 'thuggery.' This followed several earlier similar attacks by unknown assailants.

On 10 April, Salafist students at Mansoura University accused university administrators of hiring thugs to attack students protesting alleged administrative negligence that they said had led to one student's death.

Other governorates currently witnessing similar student protests are Aswan, Damietta, Suez, Alexandria and Tanta

"We refuse the oppressive tactics used inside universities and demand the purge of educational institutions," read a statement issued by students of various political orientations in the Nile Delta city of Tanta.

Meanwhile, at Banha University's commerce faculty, similar protests took place in the presence of Higher Education Minister Mostafa Mosaad, who voiced his objection to "party activities" on campus, which, he said, could lead to disputes between students.

"The party system at universities will lead to conflict and intolerance and that's unacceptable," said Mosaad.

Notably, Muslim Brotherhood students did not participate in Sunday's protests.

Saheib Abdel-Maqsoud, a spokesman for Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated students, told Ahram Online that the group supported "most" of the students' demands, but refrained from participating in the scheduled protest because they had not been invited.

"If we had agreed on protest demands, we would have joined [the protests]," said Abdel-Maqsoud.

Abdel-Maqsoud went on to criticise student protests for being "politicised," which he said would only hurt the students' cause.

"This politicisation isn't good for students. We must distance ourselves from polarisation and politicisation of the cause," said Abdel-Maqsoud. He went on to give examples of students who, during recent protests, had chanted against the Muslim Brotherhood's leadership.

Around 13 student unions, including those at Cairo and Ain Shams universities, alleged that Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated students had damaged ballot boxes during an ongoing Egyptian Student Union poll.

Muslim Brotherhood students have denied the claims.

An independent student recently won the presidency of Egypt's student union, which had long been dominated by the Brotherhood.

"We support protesters' demands for better food, better dormitories, better on-campus security and better education... but to mix the issue with political problems will only lead to a political dispute and the loss of students' rights," said Abdel-Maqsoud.

On 13 April, 41 student movements from Egyptian public and private universities took to the streets to demand the dismissal of both Mosaad and Gamal Nawara, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Private Universities.

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