The new university year in Egypt kicked off with a series of demonstrations by students angry at draconian anti-protest laws passed by the goverment of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Students across the country are demanding the removal of the private security firm Falcon Guards from campuses as well as an end to new laws banning protests.
In Alexandria University, Egypt’s second city, riot police fired tear gas and live ammunition when they attempted to raid buildings on the campus.
According to some reports students armed with firebombs destroyed the new electronic security gates before spilling out onto the streets and confronting riot police.
Security forces arrested several students at Assiut Univertsity in Upper Egypt when they clashed with the Falcon guards. At Fayoum University, south of Cairo, students staged protests after two students there were seized by the guards. The students issued a statement denouncing the “kidnapping of students at the university gates and the deployment of police agents on campus”.
Similar protests broke out at Mansoura, Helwan, Kafr al-Sheikh and Ain Shams universities.
The discontent has now spread to university lecturers who are angry at a new law that makes participation in politics a disciplinary offence. The law gives university presidents near dictatorial powers over all students and staff, including the right to expulsion without official investigation and no right to appeal. The law is a green light for a general crackdown on dissent. One newspaper reported that university bosses are also recruiting students to spy on their colleagues.
A group called Students Against the Coup, which is affiliated to the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, is behind many of the protests. But it is now attempting to distance itself from the student actions.
The protests follow a number of small strikes among carpet workers in the industrial Nile Delta city of Mahal al-Kubra. Student leaders are demanding the release of all those arrested and the withdrawal of security forces from campus.
For more on the protests and campaign materials go to: menasolidaritynetwork.com