The Egyptian government has tightened security at twelve leading universities across the country, following a rise in anti-government protests at the start of the academic year.
Protests have intensified since Cairo hired private security companies to secure all campuses against political anti-government protests and activities.
In the capital city, the universities of Al-Azhar and Cairo have been surrounded by tall metal fences and private security guards check students’ identities as they pass through metal detectors.
The new security measures prohibit all forms of partisan activities at campuses and authorize university officials to expel “disruptive students.”
Rights groups say security forces arrested at least 110 students at their homes, mostly in pre-dawn raids, last week.
The activists say the oppressive methods used by the security forces were even worse than those used during the rule of the country’s former dictator Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in 2011.
A new statement by Amnesty International has warned against the “excessive force” used by security forces against protesters and noted that dozens of protesting students were wounded following the police crackdown at a rally at Alexandria University last week.
“We were expecting these measures, but they will not affect our movement and we will take extra precautions,” said Youssef Salhen, the spokesman for Students Against the Coup movement.
“If our protests are not more frequent than last year, they will definitely not be less. Protests can’t be stopped inside universities because universities are meeting grounds for youth, especially given the protest law,” he added.
Following the ouster of Egypt’s first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current president and the former head of the armed forces, in July 2013, students staged massive anti-government protests across the country. The government clampdown on Morsi supporters has left hundreds dead and thousands detained.