Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam condemned the rioting and the raiding of Al-Azhar University buildings that took place on Wednesday, a move that was also denounced by Al-Azhar’s student union.
Allam released a statement on Thursday saying “the university campus and halls will not become a place for conflicts and settling political scores…” Allam called on Al-Azhar and all university students to remain peaceful and urged them “not to get carried away in anger” which may lead to rioting, disruption of classes and damage of public property.
Al-Azhar’s student union said in a statement on Wednesday that it condemns and rejects the breaking into the university’s building, describing it as “disgraceful”. The union asserted in another statement that Al-Azhar university students have always been peaceful in all of their activities, adding that “anyone who is fair” will not say that they caused the violence and vandalism that took place in the university.
The student union claimed that “agent provocateurs were planted” among the protesters.
On Wednesday, Egypt’s Public Prosecution authorised police forces to enter Al-Azhar University’s campus upon the request of university chairman Osama Al-Abd. The request came after a group of students broke in to the university’s administrative building.
Police arrested 26 people, 14 of whom were not students in the university. State-run Ahram reported that prosecution began investigations with the arrested and that university officials would be called in for questioning.
Interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi tasked Interim Minister of Housing Ibrahim Mehleb with inspecting the buildings in order to inventory the losses ahead of repairing them.
Damage to the administrative buildings includes, destruction of 95% of the first floor, and destruction of the offices of top university official including Al-Abd and his deputies on the second and third floors, state-run Ahram reported. Documents and computers were also damaged.
Cabinet spokesperson Sherif Shawqy said what happened will not affect the educational process inside the university.
Al-Azhar students have been holding daily protests, primarily directed against the “military coup” which led to the unseating of former president Mohamed Morsi, since the start of the university’s academic year on 19 October.
The university’s student union is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Brotherhood supporters from the university had clashed with police forces during protests in the university on Monday.