Police forces will be present at university gates going forward to help maintain security, verifying entrants and inspecting cars, according to Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi.
El-Beblawi said in a press conference after Thursday’s cabinet meeting that university presidents will have the right to request the entry of police forces into campus in case of “threats to individuals, entities and students”.
The decision comes as a reaction to Wednesday’s violence in Al-Azhar University, where 27 people have been detained for 15 days pending interrogations with charges of breaking in the university’s administrative building, AswatMasriya reported.
El-Beblawi added that security forces do have the right to “directly interfere if the situation is out of control.”
Mostafa Saad, vice president of the Cairo University Student Union, said that all university unions will refuse the return of the police to universities, regardless of the justification behind it.”
“The current minister for higher education, Hossam Eissa was one of the most outspoken advocates on ending police presence in and around universities, now he’s calling for the return of the police.”
“I understand the difficulty faced by the current cabinet after daily protests within university, but we have called numerous times for the instating of private security companies”
On Wednesday, Public Prosecution authorised police forces to enter Al-Azhar University’s campus upon the request of university chairman Osama Al-Abd.
Al-Abd had asked security forces to enter campus to protect “lives and public properties” after a group of students broke into the university’s administrative building.
Al-Azhar University has seen ongoing unrest since the beginning of the school year on 19 October. On 20 October, students supporting former president Mohamed Morsi clashed with security forces after a staged protest denouncing the death and arrest of several Al-Azhar students turned violent.
Another round of clashes took place on 28 October when Muslim Brotherhood supporters from Al-Azhar University clashed with police forces during protests in the university and on El-Nasr Road.
Until 2009, the Ministry of Interior was responsible for providing Homeland Security personnel to secure universities. In 2009, the
administrative court banned this decision, establishing an “administrative” university security.
In September, the cabinet denied that the Ministry of Justice issued a decision deputising a number of administrative university security personnel to arrest students, describing news of the decision as “unfounded”.