CAIRO: With the final electoral lists of student union candidates due to be announced Sunday, universities around Egypt have witnessed several protests in the past few days after some students belonging to political groups were excluded while other were reportedly detained.
“Many students were rejected with or without reasons, while the universities’ employees procrastinated in receiving the nomination papers of numerous others,” Islam Tawfik, a Cairo University student affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), told Daily News Egypt.
“Why are university officials afraid to hold free elections?” he asked, obviously not optimistic about the coming elections.
“I expect that security will keep stalling the announcement of the electoral lists until a late hour on Sunday…then we may…find no elections the following day and that [certain students] will win the polls by acclamation,” he said.
At an electoral gathering held last week at Cairo University, MB students warned that they will not tolerate any infringements during this year’s student union elections.
Students at Egyptian universities have reported several violations allegedly committed by policemen.
Banha University students, also affiliated with the MB, accused university officials of ruling out about 70 candidates without providing a clear reason for their exclusion. The students threatened to hold protests until their petitions are addressed.
Early last week, a female student at Al-Azhar University’s Zagazig branch in Sharqiya governorate was reportedly beaten up by a police officer after questioning why he asked to search her. The student reportedly suffered severe injuries that required her treatment at hospital.
The incident caused outrage among university students nationwide. Several groups on the social networking website Facebook were created, calling for taking legal action against the officer.
Following this incident, dozens of students were detained after protesting the attack. Numerous protests have since been held at universities across Egypt, also demanding an end to police interface on campuses.
In response to the recent events, the March 9 Movement — a group of Cairo University professors who press for university autonomy and academic freedom — vowed to support the students through a campaign named “Defending Egypt’s Students.”
“The rights of students have been violated, especially with [recurrent] police interference in university affairs,” March 9 member Awatef Abdel-Rahman told Daily News Egypt.
“The coming March 9 conference will be partially dedicated to students’ affairs…and the increasing [intrusion] of the interior ministry in students’ life,” she added.
A number of human rights lawyers have joined forces with the professors, filing a number of lawsuits in a bid to end such violations and seek punishment for those responsible.
Meanwhile, six student movements are due to hold protests outside the Ministry of Higher Education headquarters during elections on Monday against recent reports of alleged police brutality.
On October 23, the State Council will look into an appeal filed by the interior ministry against a previous ruling that ends police supervision on universities. March 9 had filed a lawsuit two years ago calling for replacing the universities’ security with civilian security personnel instead of policemen.