CAIRO: A branch office of the Passports Administration will be opened at Al-Azhar University to facilitate the production of residencies for expat students, Youm7 quoted Al-Azhar’s undersecretary Abbas Shouman at a seminar Wednesday.
Al-Azhar Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb was “disturbed when he learned the difficulties that female international students encounter to produce residencies,” Shouman said during a cultural seminar for the students of the Faculty of Islamic Sciences, which enrolls non-Arabic speaking students.
The Imam knows that “expatriate students are a treasure for Al-Azhar because they are its ambassadors in their home countries,” Shouman added.
Tayeb also supervises the renovation works of the expatriate dorms, Shouman said, adding that a kindergarten affiliated with Al-Azhar will also be built for the children of female expatriate students.
The seminar comes as part of a “cultural season” for expatriate students at Al-Azhar University, Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Sciences Abdul Moneim Fouad said at the event.
The goal of such activities is to protect the minds of expatriate students from “being hijacked” by extremist groups by providing them with intellect, science and faith, he added.
On Oct. 15, the Islamic Research Academy (IRA) decided to retain possession of the passports of international students during their study at Al-Azhar University to regulate their arrival and departure.
The decision was issued after concerns were raised that Al-Azhar expat students may be vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups because they can operate for such groups in Egypt and when they return to their home countries, and also due to their possible financial difficulties.
International students studying at Al-Azhar in 2014/2015 numbered 39,694, according to a statement by IRA Oct. 12. A total of 21,348 of the figure are in the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, while the rest are still in school.
Additional reporting by Loai Ali.