21 February, 2009

"The students' first demand: Kick state security out!"

Students from a broad range of political currents - from Muslim Brotherhood to socialists, nasserists and the "6 April movement" - demonstrated for several hours at Cairo University today, protesting security interventions on universities and rising tuition fees. Needless to say, the security presence outside the main gates was massive. The students were allowed to protest just outside the campus - surrounded by hundreds of riot police - only after they attempted to force open the locked gates.

Click the pic above for a set of photos on flickr, or here for Hossam al-Hamalawy's links to updates and reports about the protest.

There has been some confusion as to why this was announced in some places as an "International Student Day" event, as this day is in November. Zeinobia has a post here with some of the historical background to the National Student Day, an Egyptian event that, just like the Police Day celebrated a month ago, has it's origins in the struggle against British colonialim after World War Two.

Additional note: It's worth mentioning that on this day four years ago the third demonstration by the Kifaya-movement took place in the exact same spot, outside the main gate of Cairo University. It was described by Al-Ahram Weekly as "the largest anti-Mubarak demonstration that had ever taken place." The scenario described in the article was similar to that of today, with students allowed to join the demonstration outside the gates only after climbing on and rattling the chained iron gates.

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