In the days immediately following the start of the Egyptian school year on October 11, 2014, Egyptian authorities reportedly arrested at least 110 students from universities around the country. Many of these students were reportedly seized from their homes in pre-dawn raids, and were placed in detention for 15 days for investigation. According to reports, the majority of the students had been involved in on-campus protests prior to the start of the school year, challenging the rule of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, and demanding academic freedom and the release of other detained students.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about arbitrary arrest and detention of students in retaliation for their peaceful exercise of the right to free expression and association – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with the exercise of such rights, so long as they are undertaken peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, state actions limiting the rights to free expression or association have a chilling effect on academic freedom and university autonomy, and undermine democratic society generally.