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Nile University students respond to Zewail

Students hold a press conference and distribute documents they allege prove their claim to disputed land

Nile University students protest the original decision to award lands to the Zewail Science City. (DNE/ File photo/Hassan Ibrahim)
Nile University students protest the original decision to award lands to the Zewail Science City. (DNE/ File photo/
Hassan Ibrahim)

Nile University Student’s Union has criticised the Cabinet, calling it “a cabinet that doesn’t implement court rulings,” in a press conference held on Sunday at the Press Syndicate.

In response to allegations made by Nobel-Prize winning scientist and head of Zewail Science City, Ahmed Zewail, legal documents allegedly proving Nile University’s claim to disputed lands were distributed in the press conference.

Among the documents was a copy of the Administrative Court ruling; cancelling former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq’s decision to allocate disputed lands to Zewail Science City, rather than Nile University. Though the court ruled on the case on 18 November, Nile University students and staff have not been given permission to enter the campus until now.

Ayman Maher, a parent of one Nile University student, said: “Why is the implementation of the court ruling still pending?  I’d like to see someone from the authorities muster up the courage to tell us they have officially killed Nile University instead of wasting our time and energy.”

Zewail has challenged the court ruling. His challenge is scheduled to be heard in court on Tuesday. Another court challenge was submitted on behalf of President Mohamed Morsy, Prime Minister Qandil and Minister of Higher Education Mustafa Sa’ad.

Other documents distribute at the Press Syndicate included the contract selling the disputed land to the Ministry of Communication, which in turn gave Nile University the right to use the land; the 2006 cabinet’s decision to found a non-profit, privately owned University (Nile University) and the minutes of the Privately-Owned and Civil Universities’ session in 2011, when Nile University was turned into a Civil University.

Joanna Joseph, the parent of one Nile University student, said: “Nile University is not a privately-owned University, it’s a civil university.” Joseph stated that Nile University was only recognised as a privately-owned university upon its establishment because there were no law recognising civil universities then. Though recognised as a civil university in 2011, the status is yet to be ratified by a presidential decree.

Joseph said: “If you want to license a dog in Egypt, you can easily do so according to the law. Yet there’s no law for licensing cats. Thus, cat owners license their cats as dogs. The same thing happened with Nile University; we are waiting on being recognised as a cat.”

Nile University is Egypt’s first scientific university. It includes seven research centres in different scientific fields; it hosts 250 researchers and has completed 700 projects in the past four years. The university specialises in applied research.

Nader Abdel Qader, a researcher, said: “The current conflict-driven environment the University is going through makes it impossible for scientific researchers to properly function.”

The dispute between Zewail Science City and Nile University has been ongoing for almost two years.

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