The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) issued Sunday its periodical report on violations against university students in Egypt, highlighting a decrease in violations and in student activities.
The report focuses on the first month of this academic year’s second semester. It cited cases of storming student houses from Ain Shams, Al-Azhar, Fayoum and Port Said universities by the police forces, in addition to mass arrests from different universities.
It also mentioned the case of referring two students from Ain Shams University to military prosecution.
Violent student protests were also present in the report, as it mentioned protests led by the anti-government student movement Students Against Coup (SAC) in Cairo and Fayoum universities. The report said that “the movement assaulted administrative security personnel”.
Students at Cairo University and Al-Azhar University kicked off the new semester with short protests on campus.
The student group, formed in July 2013 after the military ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, wrote in a statement published on the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website, calling on the Egyptian people “to unite in the face of the military state until the junta is ultimately defeated”.
AFTE’s report added that there is an “obvious decrease in the student activities”, noting “restrictions” from university administrations. These occurred through dismissing students on grounds of participation in protests and through denying students authorisations to organise activities.
The Day of Egyptian University Independence was marked on 9 March, with AFTE also expressing deep concerns over restrictions on university staff.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a presidential decree in January amending Law 45/1972 regulating university affairs. It will include provisions to dismiss university professors who participate in on-campus political party activities.
According to the amendment, professors can also be dismissed for participating, inciting or assisting in violence or riots inside university campuses or any of their facilities. They can also be penalised for bringing in weapons or explosives of any kind to the university. This also includes fireworks or incendiary materials or any other tools and materials that can cause harm or put in danger individuals, facilities and possessions.
AFTE noted an increase in the rate of threats, disciplinary procedures and referrals to administrative investigations against teaching staff, in addition to interventions in their academics and research by universities administrations, citing “at least four confirmed cases”.
The organisation added that those administrations submitted to pressure from the state and the media during the 2014/2015 academic year.
AFTE voiced its rejection of pressure and intervention against university leadership by the state and the media, as this “leads to university administrations becoming a tool to restrict academic freedom.”
The organisation added that the cases it has showcased on the day of universities independence represent a “clear indicator of the deterioration of the status of academic freedom and the independence of universities”.