CAIRO: The Cairo Court for Urgent Cases suspended an administrative court order that had banned the presence of police officers on Cairo University campuses, according to state portal egynews.net.
Under a November 2008 court order, Cairo University administration was obliged to employ civilian personnel as security guards instead of police officers commanded by the Ministry of Interior.
“The judge that referred the matter to the administrative court on the basis that the case was not under his area of expertise is the same judge that suspended the court order,” Khaled Ali from the Hisham Mubarak Law Center told Daily News Egypt.
“This is a public embarrassment to the Egyptian judiciary,” he added.
Ali, who pledged that the center will appeal the suspension order, believes that reversing the decision is a result of pressures from the state security.
The case was brought to court by members of the March 9 Movement, a group of Cairo University professors that was formed in March 2003 in the wake of the US invasion of Iraq and have since continued to press for the university’s autonomy and academic freedom.
Although this case is particular to Cairo University, members of March 9 hope that the new verdict, if approved, would be applicable to university campuses nationwide.
Currently, university administrations have no jurisdiction over police officers present on their campuses.
“The problem with the current system is that the university administration is unable to hold security personnel accountable,” professor of mathematics and member of March 9 Movement Laila Soueif told Daily News Egypt, citing incidents of gate security “humiliating” university staff on their way in and out of campus.
“It’s like when a person employs a doorman to guard his house, he has to be employed by them,” she explained.
“One of the incidents that ignited our call for civilian personnel was when a professor at Ain Shams University was physically assaulted for parking in a no parking zone,” Soueif recalled.
At Cairo University, gate security personnel once prohibited visitors of a professor from entering university premises even after permission was issued from the university’s president, according to Soueif.
Students and professors have also protested repeated interference by some police officers against individuals who are politically active.
In 2008, two engineering students from Helwan University, Nagy Kamel and Mostafa Shawky, filed a legal complaint against police officers who physically assaulted them while they were attempting to enter the engineering faculty.
Both students are prominent members of the Socialist activist group, Resistance Students.