Egyptian students return to university after warnings against protest
Students in Egypt returned to their campuses on Monday to begin the new year of study amid dire warnings against engaging in political activity at university.
This year’s return to university has been mired in controversy over student political activities, with a senior university head threatening to “cut off the heads” of students who organise demonstrations without prior permission.
Speaking to Egyptian satellite channel CBC on Sunday night, Jaber Nussar, president of Cairo University, said, “We will cut off the heads of anyone who leaves his work or organises protests without permission from the university."
After weeks of disagreement over new registration rules, up to 2.5 million students are set to attend the first day of study at universities up and down the country.
Officials announced last month that a regional distribution system would be introduced, meaning that students from Egypt’s southern and Delta provinces would no longer be allowed to apply to study at universities in Cairo.
A ministerial source told London-based news site al-Araby al-Jadeed that the decision was taken after research indicated that the majority of young people who travel from southern Egypt to Cairo for university associate with Islamist movements like the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Further controversy was stoked earlier this month when ministers announced that the children of judges and army generals would be exempt from the rules due to “national considerations”.
Security has been ramped up at campuses around the country, as officials anticipate further student protests in the deeply polarised country.
An opposition group calling itself Students Against the Coup has already called for a fresh wave of protests this academic year.
Most universities are using electronic admission cards to ensure that only enrolled students are allowed to access the campus.
Last year, a new law that came into force allowing private security companies to patrol university campuses sparked protests.
Private security groups like Falcon, headed by a former head of the Egyptian secret services, and Queen Service, which is owned by the armed forces, are getting increasing amounts of custom from universities keen to ensure that violent protests are kept off campus.