CAIRO: Cairo University students are divided over the university’s decision to continue holding classes in the wake of triple explosions outside the campus Wednesday. University head Gaber Nassar said Wednesday that the university will not suspend classes, and some students have challenged the decision.
Ongoing violent protests on campuses have led students to skip lectures and stay at home, Gehad Mohamed, a law student at Ain Shams University, told The Cairo Post.
Mohamed said she is against Nassar’s decision to continue classes. Suspending classes would be “difficult,” she said, but “better than dying on campus.”
“I think this semester should be suspended, as we do not know what will happen next,” said Mohamed. “My mother panics when I go to the university and always tells me to stay at home.”
Other students hold similar views. “Suspending studies is the best decision for the meantime,” Faculty of Art student Mohamed Hassan told The Cairo Post. “The students face teargas and violent clashes every now and then when securty forces attempt to disperse Brotherhood marches,” he added.
Suspending classes will not end terrorism, Hassan said, but “it will end the threats the students face every day at university.”
Hassan said many of his friends decided not to attend lectures after Wednesday’s bombings at Cairo University.
Following Wednesday’s attack, Nassar said there were no plans to delay study, and that he had ordered academic security officers to monitor the gates of the university.
Ahmed Emad agrees with the decision to continue classes. “If we suspend classes now, then we will suspend them every time there is violence, and this will not work,” Emad, a student at Cairo University’s Faculty of Science, told The Cairo Post.
Dalia Fouad, a senior in Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering, also said the solution was not to suspend study.
Other proactive solutions must be found for the problem of ongoing protests at universities, she told The Cairo Post, adding that she is against the presence of security forces outside the university.
“As long as police presence continues outside the university, threats targeting them will also continue,” Fouad said. She suggested security forces move outside the vicinity of the university in order to decrease their vulnerability to violence.
Universities across Egypt have witnessed frequent demonstrations since the beginning of this school year, often leading to violent confrontations with security forces. On March 30, a student was shot dead by securty forces during clashes at Al-Azhar University. In December, 19-year-old engineering student Mohamed Reda was shot dead during a student protest. Reda’s death fuelled students’ rage against crackdowns by security forces inside the university campus.
There is no official number of sudents killed during clashes, but the Students Against the Coup movement claims there have been “hundreds” of deaths.
Most of the recent marches and demonstrations at Cairo, Al-Azhar, Alexandria and Ain Shams universities were organized by the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, demanding the release of students detained at earlier protests.
Various events over the past few months have fueled the onging protests. Demonstrations by Muslim Brotherhood supporters after last July’s ouster of Mohamed Morsi gained momentum after a Dec. 24 decision designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist group.
The preliminary death sentece handed to 529 Brotherhood affiliates by a Minya court on March 24 led to a sharp escalation in anger among students and Brotherhood sympathizers, and consequently increasing clashes and riots between student demonstrators and security forces.
Wednesday’s triple explosion at Cairo University killed a Giza security officer and injured nine others. A group called the Soldiers of Egypt claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement posted Wednesday on its Facebook page.
In the wake the explosions, many have speculated that attacks and clashes between protesters and security forces will continue as presidential elections approach. Elections are slated for May 26-27.