Students rally against security crackdown

Students demonstrated against security forces’ recent interventions at universities across the country on Sunday following weeks of deadly violence at Al-Azhar University campus.

Members of the April 6 Youth Movement, Dostour Party and the Strong Egypt Party joined several demonstrations commemorating the 100-day anniversary of the dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins at Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda Square, which left hundreds dead, joining forces with Muslim Brotherhood students to protest against police brutality.

In the weeks after the dispersal, pro- and anti-Muslim Brotherhood students clashed violently at universities nationwide, triggering intervention from police forces.

The most intense violence occurred at Al-Azhar University in Nasr City, where pro-Muslim Brotherhood protests repeatedly led to clashes with security forces and neighborhood residents. Twelve students were recently sentenced to 17 years in prison for their participation in the protests.

The verdict appears to have marked a turning point in the university protest movement, as students from across the political and ideological spectrum have started to band together.

Mohamed al-Bakr, a leader of the Strong Egypt Party, said that the security forces’ harsh tactics left the students no other choice than to demonstrate together.

“When it comes to the freedom of the students you’ll find them all one hand; the government is trying to politicize the campuses and classify and deal with each student according to his party,” he said.

“But this would result in what you saw yesterday,” Bakr continued, referring to Sunday’s protests.

Last week, the Cabinet debated whether or not to pass a decree allowing permanent security presence on university campuses, a move that would overturn a 2010 Administrative Court ruling banning the stationing of police in universities. When that ruling was finally put into effect in 2011, it was celebrated as a victory for students’ rights.