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 21, 2013

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Al-Azhar University

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Egypt

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 21, 2013, sixth year medical student Abdel Ghany Hamouda was killed as police violently dispersed a protest on the campus of Al-Azhar University.  
Students had gathered in an ongoing series of protests against the overthrow of former president Mohamed Morsi and crackdown of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. One day prior to the shooting, the Al-Azhar University board had issued a statement banning on-campus protests, and had requested that Egypt’s Ministry of Higher Education enforce the ban, alleging that such action was justified by violent actions on the part of student protesters.
According to reports, Hamouda, who was among the protesters, died after being shot in the head by security forces using birdshot.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the escalating violence on university campuses throughout Egypt, and calls on all sides to exercise restraint. Scholars at Risk is concerned about an apparent use of disproportionate force 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 protecting property, they must do so in ways that are proportional to the situation and that respect peaceful expression and minimize the risk of physical injury. Use of excessive force in response to peaceful on-campus expression creates unnecessary risks of physical harm to individuals and undermines academic freedom and institutional autonomy.