Cairo court jails Azhar students, professors over protests

Photo: Cairo court jails Azhar students, professors over protests / Arab World

A Cairo city court sentenced 10 students and three professors from al-Azhar University to three years in prison on charges of illegal protesting, Egyptian daily al-Ahram reported on Wednesday.

Egypt's interim government introduced a new protest law in November, which criminalizes protests and demonstrations that were not previously approved by authorities, Al Arabiya reported.

The university had witnessed violent clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted former President Mohammad Mursi - who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood - since last August, following his army-backed overthrow in July.

Security officers stormed al-Azhar's campus Wednesday night in a crackdown on protesting students, after a long night of demonstrations calling for the release of students detained under the controversial Protest Law, newspaper Daily News Egypt reported Thursday.

"Armored personnel carriers approached the students and forced them outside the university," Ahmed Adel, a spokesman for the al-Azhar Student Union was quoted by the daily as saying.

Clashes began after students re-entered the premises. "Security forces threw tear gas bombs," he added.

In previous months, tens of students have been jailed, while others were expelled from the university over their involvement in the clashes.

After a major crackdown on Islamist supporters of the ousted president and members of the Muslim Brotherhood - including some of their top leaders - students have remained at the forefront of the resistance move against the authorities.

Near-daily clashes take place in Cairo's universities, a trend that has prompted authorities to allow campus security forces and university administrations to expel students protesting and demonstrating, added the news website.

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