Tens of students at the American University in Cairo (AUC) demonstrated on Monday in protest against the presence of a former State Security employee and a member of the former ruling National Democratic Party in the university’s administration, arguing that their presence compromises freedom of expression.
Banners carried by students read “remove Ashraf Kamal + Mohammed Dabbour.” Ashraf Kamal, a former State Security officer, is the head of the security office while NDP-member Mohammed Dabbour is the director of the office of student development. Students allege that the two men have been responsible for monitoring and censoring students’ activities on campus.
Student Islam Shabana, founder of AUC Times Magazine, said: “when we wrote an interview with Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh [a prominent Muslim Brotherhood member], they suspended the publication of the magazine for a whole week so as not to have the interview published. Ashraf Kamal took the magazine edition before publication to Dabbour for an approval which never came. University President Lisa Anderson had to intervene at the end. ”
The students chanted “out Dabbour, allow the university to see the light” and “State Security out NDP out.”
The demonstration started at the Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSS) building and marched through university until it reached the building where Dabbour’s office is located. In front of the office, students continued to chant and several explained out loud to others passing by why they were staging the demonstration.
On the way back to the HUSS building, while passing by a huge gathering of students sitting by, the demonstration was met with some sarcasm. Sarah Abdel Rahman, one of the protesters, described the students who were making fun of the protest as “connected to the old regime.” The sarcastic remarks were ignored by protesting students who continued to explain the problem of state security presence on campus.
Nada Kouny one of the demonstration organisers explained that “the protest was organised after (several) students exchanged opinions in classes regarding the presence of Kamal and Dabbour, showing resentment to their presence. Several articles have also been written about this issue.”
In response to the students’ concerns, Kouny continued, the university “formed a body called ‘task groups’ responsible for reformulating the Constitution and researching ways to increase freedom of expression on campus. However, they did not do anything about the presence of Kamal and Dabbour.”