• Reports
  • October 18, 2006
  • 21 minutes read

The State Of Freedoms At Egyptian Universities

The police state and the fall of the Egyptian university
every year at this time, Egyptian universities pass a state of uproar and continuous clashes between students and the leaders of universities along with the security interference in the issue of students. Leaderships of universities play only the role of a link between students and security who governs the Egyptian universities because security is the only one who rules, orders and punishes.

Unfortunately, the fall of the University led to deterioration in Egypt’s affairs and failure in the future for the next generations because the Egyptian regime, as a kind of securing the presence of autocratic rulers, does not want open-minded people, distinguished education  or creative professors since all this will lead to ousting the regime. Brilliant students and creative professors of course will refuse this autocratic regime and its heads who only think about nothing but just being in power.

The despotic figures found a working method to subjugate intellect and freedom in university through canceling the academic freedom and giving the power to security to rule the university. The crisis escalated when law cancelled electing deans in 1994. While in 2000 the minister Mufid Shihab started to bind universities through a new similar law, this before leaving his post then joining another one where he bound the occupational syndicates and complicating all matters in order to maintain his post for ever as servant for the autocratic political regime in all times. He is registering a shameful history for himself.

 Since his time policemen and security men invaded the bureaus of deans and professors. The daily event in universities is the meeting of security with professors. Security was able to employ spies from the staff who have mean intentions and promised them promotion and high posts. In fact most deans and leading professors are graduates from the faculties of security!! Now the cop became the leader of the dean and the dean became the boss of the university’s president!! University meetings now should have an envoy from security and some times this envoy becomes the deputy of the University president like what happened in one of the great Egyptian universities.

Law stipulates that a university should have security officers  for protecting its buildings; they must wear certain uniforms for them. Security invaded the university to practice censorship over professors and students and govern their fates.
Some times security orders the names of some PhD students and the times of the debates, and then prevents some of the debaters who are coming from an academic visit to be allowed to the debates. This happened with a great writer like Bahaa Tahir where security refused to allow him for Ain Shams University, though he came upon an invitation from the Head of Department of English at the faculty of arts in order to discuss some literary issues. Security does not know a great man like Bahaa Tahir!!

University, according to the first article for the law 49 of organizing the universities, 1972, is the specialized body for university education, scientific research that is carried out through the branched out faculties and institutes in order to further developments in society and keep pace with the modern science and intellect. Besides, universities are commissioned with providing the country for specialists, technicians, and experts in all domains of life and providing the individual with all kinds of knowledge and advanced research.

All human experience proved that such supreme goals can not be attained while there is absence for independence and the academic freedom. The UN committee concerned with economic, social, cultural rights in their 11th session, in 1999, commented on article 13 that the right of education can not be attained unless there are independence and academic freedom for students and staff.

As it was declared in Lima Declaration relating to the Academic Freedom and the Independence of High Education issued by the International Association for Social Services 1988, the right of education can not be enjoyed unless there is a full atmosphere of academic freedom and the independence of high education bodies.

The same is found in the  Egyptian constitution in article 18 that states that the state should provide the right of education, and it is compulsory in the primary stages, then the state should extend and provide all stages of education, supervises the education process, maintains the independence of universities and the research centers, all these conditions are connected to the demands of society and production.
Means for maintaining balance between the freedoms of universities and their needs for security is not a new question. However, this case was tackled before and there were international codes issued regarding the issue.

We can mention the Kampala’s declaration for the intellectual freedom issued out by the African Union in 1990 that stipulated on the presence of any military forces or civil defense forces or other quasi-forces inside the educational institutes only if it is necessary in order to save lives and properties and there are certain conditions for that:

1- There is an eminent danger

2- The head of the concerned authority must have submitted a written demand for that.

3- Approval on such demand must be made by an elected committee from among the academic community.

All the above are for the emergency cases, while regarding the normal presence for security in the educational institutions is mentioned in the executive regulation  for the law 49, 1972 (the law of organizing Egyptian universities) in article 317 which states that in Every university there shall be a security unit commissioned with protecting the foundations of the university, follow the president of the university immediately, receives necessary instruction from the president of the university  and the afore said unit must have a certain uniform for people thereof.

Any wise observer for the conditions of the Egyptian university must admit that the security bodies practice all kinds of pressures and censorships over the staff and students. They bind the freedom of meetings, organizing, and doing experiments, besides they interfere in mere academic affairs like appointing demonstrators and accepting students enroll in the university.

However, they are not committed to their duties and procedures for protecting the foundations and are not bound by law to the extent they were able to torture physically one of the staff and some girls and many times they attacked boys.
We shall enlist the evidence for the above mentioned violations committed by security bodies.

Security and appointing the demonstrators

Law of universities determines the statutory method for appointing the demonstrators  from articles 133 -138 where demonstrators, and assistant demonstrators are appointed upon a resolution from the president of the university according to a request sent by the faculty council or the institution, after counseling the opinion of the concerned department council.

The appointment shall be from the date of issuing the resolution; therefore security bodies according to the statutory basis have no guardianship on appointing demonstrators.
Unfortunately, all successive administrations for universities respond to the pressures of the security bodies where all nominees must meet all the demand of security which is represented in filling in an application that is to be send to the Egypt’s State Security Investigations besides the university delays appointing demonstrators until it receives a reply from security.

This was the case of Hani Khamis Muhammad Dowaik and many others but we shall include this experience of this man.
Mr. Hani Dowaik graduated in the faculty of Science at Cairo University from the department of entomology in May 2004 where his grade was very good and won the first position then the faculty nominated Mr: Hani Dowaik and one of his colleagues who won the second position in October 2004. The university administration then delayed appointing the demonstrators then a resolution was issued from the president of the university appointing 28 demonstrator in different faculties among them Hani Dowaik who became a demonstrator in entomology.

When the new demonstrators went to receive their duty some demonstrators were astonished to find that the administration personnel telling them to wait until they receive a notification from the security about its opinion about them despite there is a resolution for appointment. Most new demonstrators did not face a problem while Mr. Hani Dowaik who was refused according to the opinion of security!

• What would be the stance of the president of the faculty who signed the resolution?

The president of the university remained silent before this violation although Mr. Hani Dowaik visited him and told him about his ordeal, besides there were petitions sent to him carrying the signatures of about forty people from the staff.

There were many pressure practiced on the university president in order to change his position because the news were propagated in newspapers beside the university elections that are about to start and the president was speaking about claims for reformation; he had at last to correct his resolution and give Hani Dowaik his position as a demonstrator in 31/8/2005 after 8 months.

University Staff and their assistants travel in scientific missions and scholarships… why then the approval of security bodies should be obtained?

In case one of the staff has to travel he/she has to fill in an application for taking the approval of security. This means that the university gives the approval to travel for a scholarship upon a request from the security… the question is what does the opinion of security mean? And what is the security body that has the right to give its opinion?

It is worthy to mention that when a group when the Work Group for the Independence of Universities raised this issue during their meeting with the minister of high education in 11/2/2006, his Excellency replied that the Intelligence wants to make good use in participating in this scholarship!!!

We believe that the right to give permission for traveling for scholarship should be assigned only to the university

 Who accepts the enrollment of Students University or security?

All foreign students who submit applications to enroll in the Egyptian universities through the foreign pupil personnel at the ministry of High Education the ministry can not give any reply until it receives replies from the security. Sometimes it takes months. Consequently, foreign students spend long time until they enroll in the Egyptian university.

 It is worthy that security has the right to interfere in giving foreign students visas for security reasons but why should they interfered in the right to enroll in a certain universities?
5- Security and Scientific Research
Security interferes in many domains regarding the scientific research, here are some cases:
In the faculty of Arts at Ain Shams University, the security refused inviting Dr. Hassan Hanafi to debate about his book “Min Baghdad Ila Manhathen” in the cultural salon of the faculty. Security also refused the invitation sent by Dr Radwa Ashour for the man of letter Bahaa Tahir to discuss some matters with post graduate students.

In the faculty of economic science at Cairo University, security refused inviting the great reporter Hamdi Qandil to a seminar organized by the Research Center of Developing Countries in the faculty.

In the same faculty in November 2004, security refused receiving the Jewish American Intellectual who is anti-Zionist Norman Fenklestein.

The most famous case that the Work Group for the Independence of Universities dealt with was the one that took place in 19/1/2006 where security refused to allow Dr. Muhammad Said Al-Bouti to participate in a seminar at the faculty of economics and political sciences about the comparison between religions and cultures organized by the Center of Political Studies affiliate to the faculty. Dr. AlBouti  is a Syrian Islamic Thinker who was the Dean of Faculty of Sharia in Damascus University and the head of the department of Creeds and Religions at Damascus University.

Interferences in the students’ activities 

The regulation of students’ unions issued in 1979 put all student’s activities under the full guardianship for the administration though this regulation has many restrictions and limits yet it did not give the right for any kind of security to supervise the students’ activities. Despite this we can see security interfering through secret methods and sometimes in barefaced manners to limit the students’ activities. For example it refuses that a specific student group to be authorized although they are committed to all regulations.

This occurs with the student group were their members or some of them are known for their political activities in Cairo University  like the family group “Salah Al-Din” at the faculty of Medicine, and Al-Faruq family group and Al-Rayhan family group at the faculty of science and Zahrat al –Ghad family group at the faculty of commerce beside many other family groups who are known for their Islamic ideologies.

The authorities and pressures practiced by security are clear in the elections of Students unions where it destroyed the principles of electing.

The elections of students’ union

Between the years 2004-2005, many nominees from the Islamic current were stroke off the roll in all faculties of all Egyptian universities; where 47 nominee were stroke off at the Cairo University faculty of commerce, 36 at the faculty of Dar Al-Ulum, 36 at the faculty of medicine, 28 at the faculty of science…etc we verified this violation through the above said examples and to elucidate that this resolution of striking many nominees off the roll is a resolution from the security part and is not related to the students’ affairs.

Even the University administration is a collaborator in the matter as well in the university elections 2005-2006. The University Graduates Forum for Reformation” at Cairo University called for forming a committee including different professors from different faculties to monitor the elections at Cairo University and therefore concluding a report about the conditions there. The committee issued its report in 16/11/2006 where it summarized many violations and wangling in results. Then the list was declared after the afternoon before the Lesser Bairam vacation.

Many besets were placed before nominees to force them to abandon submitting their documents for elections. The primary list  for nominees was declared 8 pm on Tuesday 8/11/2005 while the final list was declared on Thursday 10/11/2005, so leaving no room for the exempted students to file a lawsuit for suspending the elections on the following Saturday.

Committee’s list for students who were stroke off the roll at Cairo University faculties
 Stoke off the roll students  Number of students in roll Faculty
  65 Science

As a result of such practices, many students showed poor turnout for participating in voting, so the minimum participation in elections was not provided, while in the day of repeating the elections, students made an initiative to hold parallel elections at eight faculties in order to make students nominate the suitable nominees for them from the original list of nominees. It is noted that the number of students who participated in these elections exceeded 15 thousand students and it exceeded the rate of participation in the organizing of Free Union elections. About 24 students at the faculty of medicine were summoned for investigation, and 15 of them were sacked for one week while 5 were given oral notices.

Their charge was that they allowed ballot boxes to the faculty in order to carry out equivalent elections for the Union without prior permission.

While at the faculty of engineering, the dean threatened students to take similar procedures had it not been for some of faculty professors who opposed him and dissuaded him from his stance.

 Interferences in the University Housings for Students:

Security always intercepts in the university housings for students starting from accepting students to appointing supervisors besides the daily censorship over students and punishes who ever be proved to be indulged in a political activity.

The evidences are given as follows:

From the beginning of the academic year, a crisis ensued in several universities due to exempting some brilliant students, some of them were in the final academic year and they meet all requirements to obtain a housing unit. When these students went to the administrations of their universities (Cairo-Ain Shams) they were informed that the administration exempted them according to the reservations submitted from the security part. All students consolidated and organized a march against this oppression.

At Cairo University, many students demonstrated before the university administration and the university housings. The University Graduates Forum moved to tackle the issue with the university president who promised to settle the matter.

 The delegation from the forum submitted a list of 52 of the exempted students to the university president who consequently pledged settling the cases of the clever students where there are 17 student of the list then reviewing the other students’ cases. After several meetings and negotiations the matter was solved by resolving to house only 14 students. Days later, the university president notified the delegation that 8 other students were certified to be housed, and they will be notified for this resolution later. However, it was discovered that only 4 students out of the eight were able to have a license to be housed while the other four were refused because there is a certain body opposed the resolution of the university president.

Therefore, there are 34 students were deprived from the simplest of the right due to the tyranny practiced by security bodies.

At Al-Azhar University, a large number of students were exempted from the university at the beginning of the year, after that five students were fired from the faculty of medicine because security reports showed that these students participated in the last parliamentary electoral campaign.

 University Professors: Universities suffer utter deterioration
A new massacre inside universities….Busisness men and security appoint leaders of universities …. Security has the first hand
Many universities are plagued with anger upon Dr. Hani Hilal, Minister of high education propounding a new vision for developing and reforming new regulations that govern the high education institutions. He is trying to get a forcible approval from professors for the new law certified by the Committee of the teaching Staff at Cairo University last summer. The movement of 9 March for the independence refused utterly the draft and they compared it to a balloon in order to detect their reactions and response. They noted that this attempt is exactly like the attempt to approve the laws of judicial authority and amending the law of publication crimes, which implicate quelling freedoms and a new massacre for the professors of universities who call for the independence of universities and object the security interferences.

These calls and petition were never met. Professors are panicked  by any attempts to cancel the free of charge education, because Dr. Hani Hilal believes that he would develop a perfect education with fees not less than 18 thousands in order to make the masters or the Bachelor.

This dangerous suggestions are brought before the universities and councils as they were justified according to the international conventions for the trading of services, it is the right of faculties to be involved in investment projects and to participate with technology companies. His Excellency believes that Egypt is abiding by the recommendations of the International Bank; this is a massacre against professors and an attempt to get rid of them.

Dr. Muhammad Abu Al-Ghar, the god-father of 9 March movement stated in an interview with ikhwan web that he refuses utterly the suggestion of the minister because this can not take place without amending constitution which are not in accordance with the suggestions of the minister.

Abu Al-Ghar said that the universities are before an eminent disaster if the minister will not tackle the issue of academic freedoms. He believes that there are many conspiracies in order to cancel the free of charge education as the board of trustees will be composed of business men, politicians from outside the universities. Any university professor will refuse to receive instructions from a business man; consequently, the authorities given to the departments will wan away although it is the only fundamental unit for universities.

Abu Al-Ghar added according to the suggestions of the minister, appointment in academic positions will take place according to contractions with the heads of departments which means that this process will be under the control of security. All professors who join political activities will be exempted. The movement, as he said will hold a meeting on next Thursday 12/10/2006 in order to discuss the minister’s suggestions.

In an interview with Ikhwan web, Dr. Yahia Al-Gazaz who is a professor at the department of geology, Helwan University said that the state is not only satisfied with its autocratic methods in dealing with the citizens they even practice pressures against students and deprive them from housing without any justifications, just because they belong to Muslim Brotherhood groups, or they feel sympathy for the group. The more grievous thing is that some university professors join this catastrophe.
Dr. AlGazaz appeals to the Egyptian government to release the Egyptian universities, because the situation in universities is deteriorating.

 Al-Gazazz pointed that the real misery lies on security who rules every thing even science and education where there should be freedom for scientific research, however, reality is completely different as security interferes in every thing and caused the death of the education process.