CAIRO — Students at Cairo's al-Azhar University took over an administrative building Wednesday and university officials called on security forces to intervene. The incident came after Egyptian authorities detained a top Muslim Brotherhood political figure.
Amateur video showed a crowd of students smashing windows and breaking into a key administrative building at the university Wednesday. Witnesses say police later regained control of the building. A number of students were reportedly taken into custody.
Sporadic protests by Islamist students at some universities continue to paralyze parts of Egypt's educational system.
It was not clear if the latest protest was related to the arrest Wednesday morning of a top Muslim Brotherhood leader, Essam el-Erian. El-Erian was shown in a photo smiling and dressed in a traditional robe as police placed him under arrest.
Egyptian media quoted el-Erian as saying that he expected to be released soon and that ousted President Mohamed Morsi would also be reinstated.
Egyptian judicial officials, however, say that Morsi, El-Erian, and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders will go on trial on Monday. A trial of Brotherhood Guide Mohamed Badie was postponed Tuesday, after three judges recused themselves.
El-Erian was the visible face of the Muslim Brotherhood for many foreign audiences, speaking on TV frequently and addressing the foreign press, often in English. In 2011, he described the group's philosophy on religion and society to VOA's Al Pessin.
“Shariah [law], as a whole, is a way of life. It is up to the people themselves. It is not imposed by law. It is according to their faith,” he said.
Many Egyptian analysts think Brotherhood supporters will try to create high-profile disruptions in the lead up to the trial of former president Morsi scheduled for next week. Veteran Egyptian editor and publisher Hisham Kassem says he expects the Brotherhood to mount fresh protests.
"They certainly are going to try and step up all forms of protest that they can," he said. " But, they need to make a louder noise than anything they've done [before] the beginning of this trial."
Hundreds of Brotherhood leaders have been arrested since July and charged with inciting violence. The deposed president's supporters have carried out mass protests demanding he be reinstated.