News / Middle East

Student Protests at Egypt's Al-Azhar Challenge Army

Protesters are seen amid remnants of teargas smoke during clashes with riot police at al-Azhar University in Cairo October 20, 2013.
Protesters are seen amid remnants of teargas smoke during clashes with riot police at al-Azhar University in Cairo October 20, 2013.
Reuters
Thousands of students from Egypt's al-Azhar University staged a third day of protests on Monday, security sources said, in one of the boldest challenges to the army since it toppled Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July.

The demonstrations demanding Morsi's reinstatement are a delicate matter for the authorities because the administration at al-Azhar, the ancient seat of Sunni Muslim learning, has historically toed the government line.

The protests at al-Azhar campuses in Cairo and other cities are smaller than previous rallies against the army-backed government. Security sources said a total about 4,000 students were involved, of whom 44 had been arrested.

Split or shift in tactics?

The unrest suggests Morsi supporters may have shifted tactics, focusing on sensitive sites rather than huge street protests which often lead to strong action by security forces.

Some clerics, officials and professors at al-Azhar are known to be supporters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

It is not clear whether the protests reflect serious splits between them and their opponents at al-Azhar, or whether a group of students is simply trying to pressure the government.

Authorities have been cracking down hard on the Brotherhood, which has won every vote since a popular uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, but is now outlawed again.

Security forces have killed hundreds of people in protests.

Brotherhood leaders, including Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, have been jailed on charges of inciting violence - allegations they deny.

The student demonstrations erupted as a debate grows over a draft law that would severely restrict protests.

Human rights groups say the law would only bring more bloodshed to Egypt, a U.S. ally which lies at the heart of the Middle East and controls the Suez Canal, a global trade route.

Controversial anti-protest law

”As well as placing restrictions on the right to freedom of assembly the proposed law would give security forces a free rein to use excessive and lethal force against demonstrators - including supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs