CAIRO: Professors at Cairo University Sunday rallied in support of two colleagues who are detained by security forces and are currently on a hunger strike.
The professors have created a group called “Independent University,” in support of Dr.Mostafa Zidan, imprisoned since April, and on a hunger strike since Aug. 23, and Dr. Magdy Khalifa, in detention for nine months, and on a hunger strike since Aug. 1; both are accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The scientists and intellectuals of the country are now behind bars, paying the price for defending this nation’s freedom and dignity,” read a Sunday statement by the group.
The professors also criticized the conditions of their detention: sharing cells with 50 other detainees.
The arrest of university professors across governorates has become common in the period following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi and Brotherhood supporters starting July 2013, including mass arrests during students’ demonstrations during last year’s first academic term.
The most recent arrest took place on Aug. 7, when seven professors were arrested in Alexandria. Like their fellow colleagues, they are charged of joining the Brotherhood, inciting the overthrow the regime and other charges related to disrupting national security, Al-Wafd reported.
While there is no accurate data providing numbers, it has been reported also that some professors, usually associated or in favor of the Brotherhood, were dismissed from their position. However, this did not necessarily have a political dimension, but was more about the legal framework of their jobs.
Pakinam al-Sharkawy, a media advisor to former president Mohamed Morsi, was a professor of politics at Cairo University before being appointed by the presidency. In February 2014, a suspension from work was issued by the university against her, which news reported at the time was because of her affiliation to the Brotherhood.
The university said her suspension was due to her absence of work without justification, when she went to work with the president.