Education minister honors Intel winners, saves medal for absent student
Abdallah Assem - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Minister of Education Mahmoud Abou el-Nasr honored on Wednesday Egyptian students returning from the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in California, Youm7 reported.

 Mona Abd El Gayed, Sara El Hanbaly and Hoda Shoman were awarded $1,000 on May 16 in the Environmental Management category for inventing a vacuum evaporator for water purification, according to a statement by the Society for Science & the Public and Intel Foundation.

 One student, 17-year-old Abdallah Assem, was noticeably absent after remaining in the United States for fear of returning to Egypt on the May 18 flight. He told Al-Jazeera in a Sunday Skype call that he was afraid to return to Egypt after being detained before traveling on charges of vandalizing a police officer’s car.

 He wrote in a Facebook post on May 19 that he was not happy with his decision because he wanted to “serve his country.”

 “Yes, I was afraid to come back, who doesn’t feel afraid? I’m afraid to be detained for years or get jailed without a trial or die at no price,” Assem wrote.

 Originally from Asyut, Assem was arrested in Cairo when finalizing his traveling documents. He was banned from traveling to California, but after his case received widespread media attention, the Minister of Interior ordered the travel ban lifted.

 “I asked for guarantees to not get detained again but there was no response,” Assem told Al-Jazeera. “It’s my final decision.”

 The appreciation certificate and medal scheduled to be awarded to Assem are being held at the Ministry of Education to be presented to him if he returns from the U.S., the ministry said in a Wednesday statement.

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