Al-Azhar University students walk past riot police during a protest conducted by a pro-Muslim Brotherhood student movement known as the Students Against the Coup, in Nasr City district October 12, 2014. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
CAIRO, Nov 1 (Aswat Masriya) – University students organised 185 of 209 student protests held in October, at the rate of seven protests per day, said Democracy Index on Saturday.
In a report released on student activism during October, the Cairo-based Index noted a significant decline in the rate of student protests last months compared to the 315 student protests held in October last year.
On-campus protests devolved to violent acts in 81 separate incidents. Security forces dispersed 19 protests, most of which were not violent until the security forces' intervention, Democracy Index said.
The Index counted 10 clashes between students and security forces, 15 between students and the administrative security guarding universities and 27 acts of violence which involve the private security company Falcon.
Minister of Higher Education Sayed Abdel Khalek hired the private security company on September 24 to guard 12 public universities during the academic year.
Strict security measures adopted by Falcon Security Services at the university gates nevertheless triggered violence from the students, who became frustrated with their delayed entrance into campus.
"Contracting this company brought to universities nothing but more restriction, violence and financial losses," Democracy Index said.
The academic year has witnessed violence since its start on October 11.
A law student at the University of Alexandria was reported dead on October 21 due to wounds sustained during on-campus violence during the first week of the year.
Democracy Index reported the injury of 43 more students and 21 security personnel from Falcon, the administrative security and the Homeland Security Apparatus.
Around 448 students were arrested since the start of the academic year, as well as two faculty members. Almost 198 students were referred to investigation while 118 others were suspended. University administrations also suspended 10 faculty members, Democracy Index said, describing the figures as a "setback".
The cabinet approved on September 24 a presidential decree amending a law in a manner which allows university chairmen to expel faculty members who "commit crimes which disturb the educational process." The amended legislation also bans faculty members from "participating in, inciting or facilitating protests which would halt the educational process …"
Releasing detained students was among the protesters' top demands, the Index said. Other demands included revoking the expulsion of students and cancelling the new security measures.
Protests were witnessed in 23 public universities and two international university, with al-Azhar university hosting the largest number of protests; 50 protests. Cairo University ranked second, with 21 protests, followed by Helwan University (17 protests).
University campuses have witnessed unprecedented violence throughout the past academic year, with at least 16 students killed amid on-campus protests, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression's Student Observatory.
The pro-Mohamed Mursi "Students against the coup" movement has been organising protests against the former Islamist president's military ouster throughout the past academic year. Protests have often devolved into clashes with security forces.
The events paved the way for a violent first week of the running academic year.
Fifty-eight student protests were reported by Democracy Index during the first week of the new academic year, at the rate of almost 10 protests per day. The Index reported 17 acts of violence in universities.
Democracy Index is a research project issued by the Cairo-based International Development Centre to monitor protests rate in Egypt.