Students across Egypt took to the streets on Sunday in protest at the aggressive handling of student movements by security forces and university staff, as well as the gross neglect of students’ needs by universities. Clashes have been reported at several universities, including Ain Shams and Alexandria.
In Ain Shams, the protest witnessed minor clashes after security personnel arrived and tried to expel the students from the area. Alexandria also reported a crackdown on students protesting.
A march of roughly 200 students also took place, starting near Cairo University and heading towards the Cabinet building. The protest consisted of students from Ain Shams, Al-Azhar and Cairo universities.
Their arrival was met with heavy police presence in front of the Cabinet building and on the side streets, although at the time of writing the situation was calm and no clashes had broken out.
The students marching said they were there to make their voice heard not only to the universities’ administrations but also to the Ministry of Health and Population and the Ministry of Higher Education.
Mahmoud Farghaly, an Al-Azhar student and member of the 6 April Youth Movement, said the government and the universities must be more accountable for their actions. He pointed at the death of Ahmed El-Baz, an Al-Azhar student who died in the early hours of Saturday, as a prime example of the university’s negligence.
“El-Baz had a heart attack,” Farghaly said. “His friends took him to the university clinic but the doctor gave him some pills and told him he would be fine. His friends then took him to the hospital but they would not treat him because he did not arrive in an ambulance from the university, but the university does not have an ambulance.”
Farghaly also spoke about the food poisoning incident at the university which affected hundreds of students and the tragic death of a female student in Mansoura University, who was run over by a faculty member.
A statement published by Misr Al-Qawia on Sunday pointed to the aforementioned events and the attack on Ain Shams students during a protest as examples of “thuggery,” repression and neglect by academic institutions in the country.
“History testifies that the Egyptian student movement carries the torch in addressing the external and internal tyranny and broadcasts the spirit of resistance and struggle within the Egyptian people,” the statement said.
Misr Al-Qawia accused the Minister of Higher Education and university administrations of being silent on such matters when they should be objective, adding that universities do not realise the true value of students and do not make appropriate investments in their future.
As a result, Misr Al-Qawia said the students will no longer stand silent against those who are preventing them from fulfilling their potential.
“The Misr Al-Qawia youth committee declares solidarity with the legitimate demands of the students for a better life and education,” the statement read.
The students’ demands include the immediate release of all detained students, an end to security crackdowns on student demonstrations, and that students must be allowed to practice freedom of opinion and expression without compromising their freedom to protest and to strike.
Students are also demanding an end to the practice of preventing certain students from participating in political action outside university, the dismissal of those responsible for the recent spate of violence, and the application of adequate supervisory measures for professors regarding the marking and grading of student exams.
The students said they also want university hospitals to be established and regularly monitored, and called for the Minister of Higher Education to be replaced with an independent monitoring body.