Demonstrations on first day of second semester, University Police absent
Cairo University - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Demonstrations erupted in a number of universities Sunday, the first day of the second semester, with University Police being noticeably absent.

On Feb. 24, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters had ordered University Police to return to university campuses at the start of the second semester; yet university police were not present Sunday.

“Perhaps University Police did not appear today in order to avoid the mounting criticism against them,” Mahmoud Kebesh, dean of the Faculty of Law at Cairo University, told The Cairo Post.

On Oct. 23, 2010, Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court had issued a verdict  ordering a ban on University Police from entering campuses, after they had been accused of targeting students and interfering with their political activities. The March 9 Professors Movement , founded in 2004 by Egyptian professors,  had filed the lawsuit which led to the ban.

“The Feb. 24 court ruling is not applicable because it conflicts with the first ruling in 2010,” Kebesh said.

“I support the presence of police inside the campuses, but through legal channels, so I am calling to amend the bylaw of university affairs,” Kebesh added.

Kebesh said police should be stationed inside and outside the campuses to impose security.

Dozens of students in Ain Shams, Helwan and Cairo Universities  organized marches earlier on Sunday  to protest against the presence of security guards inside campuses and demanded the release of their detained colleagues.

Students launched fireworks and chanted against the police and army, Youm7 reported.

According to Youm7, the students  set fire to a van belonging to a satellite TV channel.

In Cairo University, Giza Security Directorate police forces  dispersed demonstrators outside of the campus.  Police forces fired tear gas on protestors without setting foot inside the university, dispersed the demonstrations, and went back to the directorate, Youm7 reported.

On Oct. 31, 2013, after the start of the first semester, former Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawy announced that police forces would be permitted to guard universities from outside campus grounds, especially after pro- and anti-military students clashed with each other.

Sunday also saw  the annual celebration of the March 9 Professors Movement , which had called for independence of universities and was against University Police .

The celebration was held at Cairo University’s Conference Center.

“The movement rejects the return of University Police and demands the release of detained students,” Laila Sweif, a member of the movement,  told The Cairo Post.

Sweif added that the Feb. 24 court ruling was outside the court’s jurisdiction, and demanded that  university administrative security guards be provided with training that would allow them to secure campuses and students; instead of University Police.

Additional reporting by Mahmoud Ragheb and Kholoud Khairi.

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