Govt proposes solution to Nile University conflict as students continue protest

Minister of Higher Education Mostafa al-Sayed Mossad said Tuesday that a proposed solution to the conflict between Nile University and Zewail City of Science and Technology includes granting the university new buildings.

Since late August, Nile University students have been protesting the public prosecutor’s decision to hand the campus over to Nobel Laureate Ahmed Zewail. The demonstrators claimed that the Nile University administration had paid LE62 million for the right to use the campus for 99 years, and demanded that their campus remain in Zewail City and that they be allowed to use its laboratories and facilities.

A committee including members of the ministries of Higher Education, Housing and Urban Development and Justice has suggested giving the university new facilities instead. The proposed buildings in 6th of October City have all the utilities that a scientific institution would need, Mossad said. 

In an interview with state TV’s Channel One, the minister said that students’ parents had a positive impression after visiting these buildings. He said that studies at the university could resume in a week if administrators started equipping the new facilities.

Security officers forcibly broke up a sit-in on Monday held by Nile University students at the Zewail City of Science and Technology campus, arresting five of the demonstrators.

On Tuesday morning, the students returned to their sit-in outside the campus. Mariam Ibrahim, one of the protesting students, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that they won’t end their demonstration until their facilities and buildings are returned to the university.

The forcible break-up of the protest has outraged a number of political groups, parties and public figures, who described it as a return to oppressive police tactics against peaceful protests.

However, the Interior Ministry denied Tuesday using force to disperse protesters, saying security forces were merely enforcing a judicial order to enable Zewail City to use its facilities.

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