Up to 40 students across Egypt were arrested on Saturday morning from their homes under unclear charges, according to Students Against the Coup spokesperson Youssef Saleheen.
Saleheen told Daily News Egypt on Saturday that the arrested students included leading figures in the student movement, former student union leaders, spokespersons of revolutionary groups, and students affiliated with political parties.
“Most of the arrests took place by the state security apparatus with no arrest warrant from the prosecution,” he said. “These security measures should not come as a surprise to anyone as the state is determined in its crackdown against students on university campuses.”
Saleheen added that the arrests are proof that the government is intimidated by students and protests.
The Ministry of Interior denied the arrests took place.
As public universities start the new academic semester on Saturday amid increased security measures, a private security company, Falcon, will be responsible for security at Al-Azhar and Cairo Universities.
The security firm will reportedly use dogs to detect on-campus bombs and provide trained anti-riot personnel.
Al-Azhar University’s Student Union condemned the presence of the company on campus, reported state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram.
Abdel Hayy Azab, President of Al Azhar University, was quoted by state media on Saturday as saying that the university ensures the safety of all students. He also said the university will make sure to regulate the educational process and raise students’ awareness and focus on the sense of belonging to the country.
The past year has witnessed violent clashes between security forces and students inside university campuses across the country.
On 11 September, Minister of Higher Education Al-Sayed Abdul Khaleq announced that students are banned from political activities inside universities, putting restrictions on all political agendas on university campuses.
According to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression’s student observatory, security forces killed at least 16 students inside university campuses across Egypt over the past year. During the same period, 94 students were expelled and 48 arrested.
Al-Azhar University expelled 94 students for taking part in protests last year, with security forces arresting more than 48 students from inside the campus.
Hany El-Hosseiny, Professor at the Faculty of Science at Cairo University and a member of the March 9 Movement for the Independence of Universities, condemned what he called the “restrictive regulations against universities”. He said these include “surrounding campuses with arms and heavily equipped policemen, aiming to spread agents around students and professors”.