Violations of Academic Freedom in Egyptian Universities

A study was released Tuesday by the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) assessing the academic freedoms in Egypt for 2015/2016, noting that despite a decline in student movements, students are still subject to violations of their freedoms, according to Daily News Egypt.

Students’ mobilization declined, compared to the wave of protests that marked previous academic years, according to the study.

Security measures and penalties enforced against students by universities have affected the student’s freedoms of gathering.

In addition, most students’ groups have been conducting limited activities such as events related to the Palestinian crisis, namely Misr Al-Qawiya students and the Revolutionary Socialists, as well as some from Al-Dostour Party and other independents. But the security forces dispersed the events by force and then referred to investigations by university boards.

On the other hand, AFTE stated that student mobilization saw a revival in April with protests against the Egypt-Saudi demarcation agreement, also known as the Red Sea islands case, which led to massive demonstrations nationwide.

“A campaign named “Students won’t sell” made efforts to remain discreet to avoid security pursuit; however, the police and prosecution authorities were soon onto its leading members,” said the AFTE.

In the same context, AFTE counted 84 cases of students’ arrests, 28 of which occurred in Al-Azhar University, while Cairo University ranked second with 16 students, then Alexandria University with 13, that highlights the continuous violations against students.

AFTE said that “they have faced various accusations such as belonging to a terrorist organization, harming public order, using violence, and protesting,”but it added that some have been released later.

The second type of violation of students’ freedom of expression is suspension from universities, as the report stated that” definitive suspension” was commonly used against 47 students. Most accusations include inciting to protest, chaos, violence, absence, and writing insulting content on walls.

Moreover, students have also been charged with insulting their universities over opinions expressed on their personal social media accounts, said the AFTE study.