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Edinburgh University recalls students from Egypt after arrest of two exchange students

Foreign nationals have been caught up in the crackdown on anti-government protesters since 20 September
Anti-Sisi protesters gather in central Cairo, Egypt 21 September, 2019 (Reuters)

Edinburgh University has recalled all its students from Egypt after two exchange students were detained by Egyptian security forces, according to multiple reports. 

Two third-year students from Edinburgh University who were on a year abroad in Cairo had been arrested in Egypt. 

The students have since been released but it remains unclear why they were arrested. 

The incident prompted the university to recall all of its nine students from the country, according to a university spokesperson

The university added that students in Egypt have arrived safely back in the UK, or "are in the process of leaving".

“Two of our students in Egypt were recently detained and subsequently released by the Egyptian authorities in Cairo,” the spokesperson told the Huffington Post. 

"The University is obviously very concerned when it hears of incidents such as this, particularly when they involve our own students.”

"We have a responsibility to act in the best interests of our students and to take decisive action when there are concerns for safety and wellbeing. We therefore required all of our students in Egypt to return to the UK,” the spokesperson said.

"All students have now done so or are in the process of leaving. We are working closely with the students to minimise the impact of any disruption to their studies and to provide alternative placements."

The arrest of the Edinburgh University students comes in the midst of a crackdown on anti-government protesters and activists in the aftermath of a rare wave of protests against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.  

Over the past two weeks, at least 3,120 people, including well-known activists, journalists and lawyers, have been arrested after a call for protests by Mohamed Ali, a prominent actor and businessman who has accused Sisi and other top officials of large-scale corruption.

On 20 September, rare protests against Sisi erupted in what was the largest public show of discontent against his government in years.

On Friday, Italian journalist Francesca Borri was arrested at Cairo airport and later released after receiving support from the Italian embassy in Cairo, her brother said on Twitter

A number of foreign nationals have been caught up in the crackdown, including Jordanian, Sudanese, and Turkish citizens.