Clashes erupted between security forces and Muslim Brotherhood students at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University on Sunday. Tear gas was used to disperse student protests and prevent them leaving campus, Al-Ahram reported.
Security forces cordoned off the university’s gates after hundreds of students blocked Nasr Road and were reportedly heading to Rabaa al-Adaweya, the site of a six week sit-in by Muslim Brotherhood supporters that was violently dispersed on August 14.
Al-Ahram reported that students set up fires inside the campus and smashed police cars, attacking passengers. The state-run paper said that tear gas seeped into the classrooms, preventing professors from giving lectures.
An Interior Ministry statement said 3000 students blocked Nasr Road and security forces were forced to use tear gas after negotiation attempts failed and they were attacked with rocks.
The Freedom and Justice Party’s online portal reported that 11 Brotherhood students were arrested as security forces stormed the campus, but the ministry’s statement denied reports that the university was stormed.
The start of Al-Azhar’s academic year had been postponed twice under the pretext of ongoing renovations of student hostels.
It finally started Saturday October 19, and two days earlier University President Osama al-Abd urged students to stay away from politics and focus on academic work, state-run news agency MENA reported.
Abd warned that he would take strict measures against any “disruptive acts,” namely those related to political activities, and could suspend the academic year indefinitely.
Al-Azhar University is considered a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold. The student union is entirely made up of Brotherhood students.