SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: November 16, 2013

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Zagazig University

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Egypt

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Egyptian Central Security Forces used tear gas, batons and colored smoke bombs to disperse students engaged in a non-violent protest at Zagazig University’s School of Engineering on November 16th.  The students were protesting the military coup that overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in July, as well as the arrest of 23 fellow students during on-campus protests the previous week.  The protesters called on students to boycott their mid-term examinations until the detained students were released.    
The previous week’s protests had led to violent clashes between students and university administrative officials, in which students broke into an administrative building, breaking windows and vandalizing the office’s exterior.
A number of universities throughout Egypt have seen similar incidents in which pro-Morsi student protesters have clashed with Egyptian security forces.  Sources have described the week of November 9th through 14th as the most violent week on Egyptian university campuses since the January 25th Revolution.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the escalating violence on university campuses throughout Egypt, and calls on all sides to refrain from any further use of force.  Of particular concern is the apparent use of disproportionate force by security forces against students engaged in the non-violent exercise of protected human rights, including freedom of speech and association.  While Scholars at Risk recognizes that state and university authorities have a legitimate interest in maintaining order and responding to the destruction of property, this interest does not include violent attacks against non-violent student protesters.  Such actions exert a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine university autonomy.