Fresh clashes at EgyptÃ¢€™s Al-Azhar UnivAssociated Press . Cairo
The Egyptian police chased students of an Islamic university around their campus Monday, arresting dozens and firing tear gas after protesters set security vehicles on fire, the interior ministry said.
It was the second consecutive day of protests by students of Al-Azhar University, who have been holding regular demonstrations since the start of the academic year in September against the military’s ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July. The rallies have frequently deteriorated into clashes with the police.
Sunday’s protests were fuelled by the referral to trial of 21 university students on charges of rioting and storming the office of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar mosque weeks ago.
Last month, 12 students were sentenced to 17 years and fined for participating in protests and clashes on the campus.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamist group and the one from which Morsi hails, has organized regular protests since his overthrow including near daily marches on campuses.
The group and other Morsi allies continue to oppose the military chief who led the popularly backed coup against Morsi, as well as the current government. The Brotherhood demands that Morsi be restored to power and that military leaders be put on trial.
In a statement Monday, a Brotherhood-led group hailed student protests at Al-Azhar and elsewhere, calling them the ‘pulse of the revolution and its mainstay toward deliverance.’
The group called for major protests on Tuesday in support of the student protests.
The political arm of the Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party, said the student protests represent a daily ‘challenge’ to the current authorities, accusing them of waging a ‘war of annihilation’ against Al-Azhar students.
The party said the crackdown ‘will not prevent the will of Egyptians from renewing the revolution of this great people’ on the anniversary of the 2011 uprising next month.
The Interior Ministry, responsible for the police, said about 200 students had blocked the streets Monday outside the university campus — a major thoroughfare in eastern Cairo, and pelted police with rocks and firebombs, damaging at least three police vehicles and injuring policemen.
Protesters retreated to the campus after police fired tear gas and kept up their rioting there, damaging staff cars and other university properties, the ministry said in its statement.
The head of university security, Mahmoud Subeiha, told Egypt’s private CBC TV that he asked the police to enter the campus Monday to put down the protests.
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