Security forces stormed into Al-Azhar University buildings and attacked student protesters Wednesday after a night of violence between the two sides, spokesmen from Al-Azhar Student Union and Al-Azhar University Youth Movement claimed.
Students, who were calling for the release of students arrested under the controversial Protest Law, were protesting inside the university near the faculty of medicine’s building, which is far away from the management’s building where the security forces are located, said Ahmed Adel, spokesman for Al-Azhar Student Union. Student activists estimate 673 Al-Azhar students are currently detained.
“Armoured personnel carriers approached the students and forced them outside the university,” Adel said. Clashes began after students re-entered the premises, he added. “Security forces threw tear gas bombs.”
Al Sayyad, a member of the Al-Azhar University Youth Movement, said security forces assaulted people inside faculty buildings and classes, at times firing birdshot.
“They hit the head of the medicine department and arrested his son,” said Al-Sayyed. He added that they hit teaching assistants as well.
Al-Sayyad could not confirm the number of injuries, but said the clashes were the most violent at Al-Azhar so far
Clashes broke out Tuesday night as well. After a religious music festival at the university, armoured personnel carriers met the students at the gates.
“Snipers were seen getting on top of a building opposite the university, and the power got cut off on campus,” Adel said. “They must have heard them at the festival and thought they were protesting.”
The students blocked Mostafa Al-Nahhas Street and lit tyres on fire, causing a traffic jam, according to state-run Al-Ahram.
Security forces threw tear gas bombs and fired birdshot at the students, injuring between five and ten people, Adel said. The clashes lasted until after midnight.
The Ministry of Interior declined to comment.
At the time of print, clashes had halted.
There have been almost daily protests and clashes at Al-Azhar University since the beginning of the school year. According to Students Against the Coup, which has staged many of the protests, 106 students have been killed.
On 31 March, the Ministry of Interior’s forces shot two students dead. Twenty-five students were expelled the following day for alleged violence, joining 23 others who were expelled on 21 March. Sixteen students were sentenced 22 March to serve three years in prison.
After security forces were removed from university campuses following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, the Supreme Council of Universities signed a protocol with the Ministry of Interior in late February allowing security forces to enter campus only when asked by university administration.