US scholar calls on Mubarak to end unjustified attacks on students
US scholar calls on Mubarak to end unjustified attacks on students
Wednesday, October 20,2010 10:21

A letter sent to President Mubarak by the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) of North America a major American academic association devoted to Middle East studies has indicated that it viewed with grave concern the numerous recent violations against students on several Egyptian university campuses. The letter called on Mubarak to investigate what it described as "unlawful acts" committed by security forces against the Egyptian university students. It cites:

"The Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) and its Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) to express grave concern regarding numerous recent violations against students on several Egyptian university campuses. As soon as the academic year began in September, university security forces and administrators on several campuses set about punishing and assaulting students engaged in lawful, peaceful activism”.

The recent attack against Muslim Brotherhood student Somaya Ashraf, a student at Al-Azhar University who  was assaulted by a university security guard and the Nine students who staged a protest against the alleged violations against Ashraf and currently in custody awaiting trial were also mentioned.

The letter ended with an appeal by the organization stressing:

"We urge you to investigate these unlawful acts, to put an end to them, to release arrested students, and to reinstate suspended students. The Egyptian government has maintained that “Egypt is currently undergoing a process of reform aimed at broadening political participation, ensuring freedom of expression in all its forms, upholding human rights, and empowering and enabling women and the civil society organizations to participate fully and effectively in public life.” ("Political Reform in Egypt,” Embassy of Egypt in Washington, D.C.). We call on you to lift all restrictions on students’ peaceful participation in public life”.

The letter was sent to numerous college deans and professors in Egypt.

"At al-Azhar University (Zagazig campus), university security forces forcibly attempted to search all female students before allowing them onto campus. The students resisted and clashes ensued, leading to the hospitalization of student Somaya Ashraf al-Saidy. Male students were beaten, and 27 of them were taken to the Zagazig police station. Some were later released while nine others remain in custody, awaiting orders from the prosecution”.

The letter, sent by Roger Allen MESA President  and Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature, University of Pennsylvania called on the Egyptian government to release the arrested students and reinstate suspended students. It described the measures as a breach to the law with references to the articles stipulated in the constitution:

"The behaviour of university security forces is a blatant violation of Egypt’s laws and constitution. Article 129 of the Penal Code punishes public servants who use force against citizens with up to one year imprisonment. Article 41 of the Constitution holds personal freedom sacrosanct, forbidding arrest or detention of any persons without an order by the prosecution. And Article 18 of the Constitution guarantees the independence of universities and scientific research centres, a right that Egyptian students and professors have long sought to uphold”.