Located in the centre of Cairo University’s main campus, the second oldest educational facility in Egypt, the students’ mosque was demolished two weeks ago and a new one was built instead after prohibiting any praying inside any facility that is not in a mosque.
According to University President Gaber Nassar’s statements to state run Al-Ahram newspaper last Wednesday, the new mosque was built to protect students from extremism. The newly built mosque is supervised by an imam from the Ministry of Religious Endowments, and has become the only place allowed for students to pray inside the university.
Daily News Egypt spoke to a group of students to review their personal experience with the new changes. The proximity of the mosque was a common concern among students who actually pray during the academic day, but most of them were satisfied by the new services provided in the new mosque.
“We have to run between lectures, it saved some time when we prayed inside the faculty’s praying corner,” said one student from Faculty of Science as he stepped out of the mosque but he still prays there.
Another student from the Faculty of Commerce said: “I do not pray in the university, I prefer to pray at home because I have no gaps between lectures”.
Despite the central location of the mosque, few faculties are actually located near it, within a walking distance of 15 minutes in every direction. The new mosque was built right next to the old one, in the vicinity of Faculty of Commerce which has at least four buildings.
During the noon prayer, students flock inside the mosque in larger numbers across all faculties. A student with an injured leg was barely able to walk outside the mosque and said: “The new mosque is more spacious and the bathrooms are cleaner but I have to walk a longer distances”.
The new mosque was among many significant changes that took place over Cairo University’s campus in less than a year. Following political upheavals and deadly clashes between students and security men in the academic year of 2013-2014, the university’s administration has increased security measures on campus.
Police conscripts and police vans surrounded the main gate of Cairo University, all entrances to the main campus were equipped with x-ray machines and metal detectors manned by private security guards.
Falcon security group confirmed it receives approximately EGP 5m per month to securite 12 universities across Egypt.