Egypt’s Universities and the Struggle for Public Space

In the aftermath of Mohammed Morsi’s removal from the office of the president and the subsequent crackdown on his supporters and those of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian authorities have spared no effort to reclaim and expand the power they once held during the pre-2011 days. Egyptian campuses remain one of the last areas to voice rejection to state policy, but security forces have reentered the space to clamp down on violent protest that has disrupted studies and destroyed property.  

Despite the need for better security on campus, some feel the return of the state in university affairs is an assault on the indepence of these institutions. Eric Knecht, a former reasearcher for the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, argues that the state’s campaign to control affairs within the university should also be understood as part of a larger strategy to control public spaces writ-large. In his article on EgyptSource, titled “The Battle Behind Campus Walls,” Knecht notes that volatile student protests often spillover into key nearby squares. By controlling the campuses, security forces believe they can eliminate the agitation that sparks social unrest.

Read Eric Knecht’s full article on EgyptSource.

Image: Riot police and a plainclothes policeman detains a student during a protest against the military and the interior ministry, at Al-Azhar University in Cairo's Nasr City district, April 16, 2014. (Photo: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)