Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University – the oldest seat of Islamic learning in the Middle East – has expelled 76 students from different college departments for “involvement in riots” against the ruling military-installed government, state news agency MENA reported.
Al-Azhar students have been at the forefront of protest rallies supporting military-ousted president Mohamed Morsi and opposing Egypt’s current interim authorities since the beginning of the academic year in August 2013.
Continuous clashes between security forces and students at the university have culminated in several deaths among their ranks. Numerous Al-Azhar students have been tried by the military-backed judiciary, with dozens sentenced for involvement in clashes with police.
Al-Azhar University President Osama El-Abd claimed that investigations proved the students took part in activities that violate university rules and that 36 of them were female students from the university’s branch in the Nile Delta city of Zagazig, according to MENA.
Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour amended a law in February allowing university heads to expel protesting students. Twenty-five Al-Azhar students were expelled in March.
The start of the current academic term was postponed for three weeks for security reasons. Greater security measures were implemented to counter the pro-Morsi protests common at some of Egypt’s top universities.
Egyptian police forces have widely been accused by rights groups of heavy handedness and random arrests during the confrontations with students.