No political discussions allowed in Al-Azhar Institutes: chairman
Sheikh Gafar Abdullah - YOUM7/Khaled Kamal

CAIRO: Discussing politics inside Al-Azhar Institute schools is banned according to new instructions issued by the institute’s head, Sheikh Gafar Abdullah, according to statements to Youm7 Thursday.

He added that the academic year will begin on Sept. 20, and that anybody openly discussing politics will be referred to investigation.

Strict rules banning political discussions were enacted at not just Al-Azhar Institutes, but also in other academic institutions that witnessed violent actions during the past year, including Cairo University and Al-Azhar University.

Minister of Higher Education Sayed Abdel Khaleq had previously made numerous statements banning political speech inside universities.

“We will apply the law firmly,” Abdel Khaleq said during an interview with Al-Hayah television channel Wednesday. “Some people are insisting on applying their own [political] activity, well, we won’t allow them and we will use the law to ban them and anyone else who thinks that,” Abdel Khaleq added.

Last month, the minister said during a meeting with the Supreme Council for Education and Student Affairs that he will not allow any kind of political activity, a stance condemned by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) in a statement issued Aug 13.

ANHRI said the decision is a huge violation for human rights and freedom of expression and a form of “undermining the students’ political participation.”

Abdel Khaleq said during his Wednesday interview that he approves returning police security guards to campuses. Police presence inside campuses ended following the January 25 Revolution that overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak.

“There is a huge difference between expressing opinions and starting violence, as in the burning of universities that happened last year,” Abdel Khaleq said.

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