Security forces clear out Nile University sit-in

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 six of the demonstrators.

According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, security forces prevented journalists from filming the incident, and refused to let journalists inside the campus.

Since late August, Nile University students had 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.

Administrators of the Zewail City project had promised that Nile University students would be given access to the facilities, but there is no guarantee that this will happen. Nile University has been left in limbo, without a home campus, pending a license.

Mohamed Ibrahim, one of the students at the sit-in, said that the head of the Giza security department came to the campus on Monday afternoon with dozens of Central Security Forces personnel.

“They requested that we end the sit-in — we rejected. We still insist on standing our ground until the university is given back to those who have the right to it,” Ibrahim said.

Abdel Aziz Hegazy, chairman of the Nile University Board of Trustees, refused to comment on the security authorities’ attempt to disband the sit-in.

The university’s parents and guardians council announced it was awaiting a decree by President Mohamed Morsy to restore the campus to Nile University.

Zewail, head of the Zewail City project, tweeted that he did not interfere in the decisions of the ministerial committee appointed with deciding the fate of the campus, and was hoping that the committee would reach a final resolution without any impediment.

He stressed, however, that he opposed the use of violence against any demonstrating students.

The ministerial committee appointed by Prime Minister Hesham Qandil had recommended to “allow Nile University to use the buildings and laboratories of the 6th of October Education City for a year, with pay, until its positions are adjusted as a private university, and to allow Zewail City of Science and Technology to use the buildings [in Smart Village], with pay, for a year, until the law governing it is issued.”

According to the state-owned newspaper Al-Akhbar, in 2006 former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif gave a plot of land to Nile University that had had been designated for the Zewail City of Science and Technology project in 2000.

After the 25 January revolution, however, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf granted the land back to Zewail City and moved Nile University to Smart Village.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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