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: December 28, 2013

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Al-Azhar University

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Egypt

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On Saturday, December 28, 2013, Egyptian police clashed violently with students at Al-Azhar University, leaving at least one student dead, four more injured and two university buildings damaged. 
According to reports, student supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to prevent other students from entering university buildings to take exams, and set fire to campus buildings housing the faculties of commerce and agriculture. Police reportedly responded by firing teargas into the crowds of protesting students. In addition, police allegedly fired rounds of live ammunition at protesters, killing at least one student, identified as Khaled el-Haddad. Another student, Tamim Mahmoud, was left in critical condition after being shot in the head. 
The events at Al-Azhar University are part of a series of on- and off-campus clashes, between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and former president Mohamed Morsi, and Egyptian security forces, that have occurred throughout Egypt since Morsi’s ouster.
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.