Pro-Morsi Students Protest Ruling Allowing Police Return To Campuses

Groups of Islamist students protested in three governorates on Saturday, the first day of the new academic term, in opposition to a recent court ruling which allows police on campus.

However, no clashes were reported at the day’s protests.

Protests were not reported at either Cairo, Helwan or Ain Shams universities on Saturday, although all three were major protest sites last term. Al-Azhar University, where the fiercest clashes took place last term, will start its new term on 15 March.

According to Al-Ahram Arabic new website, hundreds of students at Alexandria University demonstrated against the February ruling which lifted the ban on police entering university grounds.

Amid heavy security presence in the vicinity of the university, the students chanted “we will go on, we will not forget our brothers in detention” demanding the release of their colleagues who were detained in earlier clashes.

Similar protests were reported in Upper Egypt’s Assiut.

Students Against the Coup, a coalition against the ouster of the Islamist president, organised a modest protest against the police outside of the faculty of commerce at Assiut University.

Protesters held banners showing pictures of slain students.

In Mansoura in the Nile Delta hundreds of students marched in a Students Against the Coup rally at the city’s university, calling for the release of their colleagues.

Scores of students have been detained since the beginning of the academic year last autumn during on campus clashes with police and security forces. At least seven students were killed in the violence, from the universities of Cairo, Ain Shams, Al-Azhar and Alexandria.

A member of Helwan University’s student union, Islam Fawzy, told Ahram Online that he believed that instead of curbing violence, the police’s return to campuses could increase tensions, encouraging more students to mobilise against the security forces thus stoking further unrest.

“The relationship between students and the police is already strained outside of campuses; do they really want to bring it inside?” Fawzy asked.

While security forces regularly entered campuses last term to face demonstrators, especially after a government decision allowing university heads to call in police when needed, the permanent presence of government security on campuses was removed after the 2011 revolution, when a 2010 court order banning police from universities was implemented.

The police presence had become associated with political interference in student and faculty affairs.

On Sunday, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim said that security forces would remain off campus unless violence or disruptions to academic procedures occur.

The on-campus violence, along with a recent spike in cases of swine flu in Egypt, led to the postponement of the spring term several times. The term commenced on Saturday, two weeks after its original start date.

Source : Ahram online