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: May 20, 2014

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Cairo University

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Egypt

New or Ongoing:New Incident

One student was killed, and several others were reportedly injured, in clashes between pro-Muslim Brotherhood students and Egyptian security forces on Tuesday, May 20. 
Students had gathered on campus to demand the release of several of their colleagues who are currently in government custody.  During the course of the protest, students allegedly threw lit fireworks at security officers, prompting the officers to respond by firing birdshot at the students.  An engineering student, Islam Mohamed (also identified by the name Islam Ghanem), was killed after suffering birdshot wounds to his stomach and chest. At least two other students were injured during the fighting.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the continuing violence on university campuses throughout Egypt, and calls on all sides to exercise restraint.  State and university authorities, while they have a legitimate interest in maintaining order and protecting property, must do so in ways that are proportional to the situation, that respect peaceful expression, and that minimize the risk of physical injury. Use of excessive force in response to campus unrest unnecessarily increases risks of physical harm to individuals and undermines academic freedom and institutional autonomy.  Further, while students have the right to free expression, that right does not extend to violence or the destruction of property; on-campus expression must be undertaken in a manner that is consistent with university values including social responsibility. Student violence against persons or property also creates unnecessary risks of physical harm to individuals and undermines academic freedom and institutional autonomy.