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NUS and St Andrews Students Express Solidarity with Egyptian Protestors

Friday 4 May 2012 Global Justice

NUS and the University of St Andrews Students’ Association have expressed solidarity and condolence with Ain Shams University (Cairo) students after demonstrators against military rule were killed in clashes outside their campus.

Last week, NUS hosted the Vice-President of Ain Shams University Students’ Union; Rana Sharif Mustafa at the Global Solidarity and Peace One Day fringe at NUS National Conference. She was also in St Andrews for a visit to cement the twinning of the student unions of the respective universities. During her visit to the UK she spoke extensively about peace movements and the need for peace to ensure lasting democracy in Egypt. 

Rana returned to Ain Shams, in the wake of the worst spate of violence in Egypt in months. The demonstration in Abassiya Square was initially started by supporters of Salafi presidential candidate Abu-Ismael, who has been banned from running because his mother had American citizenship: those with dual nationality are banned from running in Egyptian elections. The demonstration was bolstered however by thousands of opponents to the rule of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), which currently holds political power in Egypt pending Presidential elections.

On the morning of 1 May, armed thugs attacked the demonstrators while they slept, killing at least ten. The tactic of using paid civilian thugs to attack peaceful demonstrations was used extensively during Mubarak’s last days in power, most notoriously in the ‘Day of the Camel’ attacks in Tahrir Square.

Abbasiya square is directly in front of Ain Shams University campus, and students have been joining in the demonstrations, as have many prospective presidential candidates, and Egyptians from around the country.

In a tragic twist to the story, the President of Ain Shams University Dr Alaa Fayez, elected by staff after the removal of the pro-Mubarak former President, was killed in a car crash while on his way to visit students who had been injured in Abassiya Square.

St Andrews University Students’ Association President Patrick O’Hare said:

“I am devastated that our Egyptian colleagues have returned to Egypt to face such a tragic situation. The violence in Abassiya Square looks like it has clearly been orchestrated by the SCAF, and we should stand in solidarity with our brave brothers and sisters who are flocking to the square to defend the occupation. The bravery of the Egyptian visitors was clear when they spoke here and I am sure that they will persevere in their struggle for a fairer and more democratic Egypt in what looks like a long and difficult road ahead.

“In addition, I express my sincere condolences to the whole Ain Shams community and to the family of Dr Alaa Fayez. His untimely death in truly tragic circumstances and when his leadership was needed most is a bitter blow and we’d like to support Ain Shams students in any way we can.

Rana Sharif Mostafa said:

“ Dr Alaa Fayez was the first elected President of the University after the Revolution and he was a great, honest leader whom we are all mourning. Typical of the man, he died while on the way to visit injured Ain Shams students who were in hospital. I ask you to pray for our University which is now in very difficult times given the death of the President and the killing of protestors in front of our campus, meaning that students are unable to attend University and are instead on the streets defending their rights.”