Egyptian Court Orders University Guards to Leave Cairo University

Egyptian Court Orders University Guards to Leave Cairo University

The Supreme Administrative Court of Egypt led by Counselor Mohamed Abdel-Ghani, upheld a final verdict to end the long police presence in Egyptian universities which revoked the interior minister’s decision to establish security units on university campuses. The government’s recent appeal was rejected in court and its decisions are not subject to further appeal.

 "The permanent presence of interior ministry police forces on Cairo ‘s university campuses represents a breach of the independence guaranteed for both professors and students by the constitution and the law," a court official said.

 The jurists’ ruling was welcomed by academics since it puts universities once again on the right track in the hope of restoring some of their independence, which is critical for any respectable academic institution.

 In an exclusive interview to the independent daily "Al-Mesryoon", academics urged professors and students to unite and exercise maximum pressure on the government to comply with the ruling. Despite the final nature of the ruling it is expected that the interior ministry and the university administration will delay its implementation in an effort to revoke the rule.

Adel Abdul Gawad, head of the Teaching Staff Club Union, stressed however that the verdict is very clear, and must be implemented by the chancellors.

The Minister of Higher Education, Hani Helal, commented to the "Youm elsabaa" newspaper, explaining that the ministry will wait for the draft, adding that the ministry will examine the governance and implementation of the court verdict. Helal argued that university guards do not interfere in the educational process; noting that their role is only to protect facilities and buildings.

 Dr. Hossam Issa, a professor at the Faculty of Law, Ain Shams University , has, in turn, said the court’s decision is very important because it sets our universities on the right track and restores their independence, which is critical for any respectable academic institution. He and other professors will do their utmost to make sure the ruling is carried out. He claimed that Saturday’s ruling follows a number of violations against professors and students reported at some public universities in which policemen were allegedly involved in harming the university’s reputation. "The decision of the Supreme Administrative Court is binding, final and must be enforced".

 The ruling comes in the run-up to Egypt ‘s parliamentary elections, scheduled for November 28. While the ruling party’s dominance is not in doubt, the poll is expected to test government restrictions on the political opposition ahead of a 2011 presidential vote.

 Hafez Abu Saeda, general secretary of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), commends the ruling.

However, General Fouad Allam, a former deputy director of Egypt ‘s State Security Service, has alleged that the concerned authorities are waiting to examine the verdict so as to identify ways of dealing with it, believing that the ruling does not include the ban of police on campus but prohibits the establishment of police units on the university’s campus. Allam expressed the readiness of the Interior Ministry to leave the universities immediately, if the verdict stipulates that the decades-long presence of police responsible for protecting university facilities and buildings must end.

 Security experts have expressed concern that disorder could erupt inside the university if the guards are in fact expelled from the university.