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Egyptian police fire tear gas to disperse pro-Morsi student protesters (PHOTOS)

Published time: October 20, 2013 18:02
Protesters throw stones during clashes with riot police in front of the main offices of Al-Azhar University in Cairo October 20, 2013 (Reuters / Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Protesters throw stones during clashes with riot police in front of the main offices of Al-Azhar University in Cairo October 20, 2013 (Reuters / Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Egyptian police fired tear gas at participants of a pro-Morsi student demonstration as they rallied and tried to march to a protest camp at Cairo’s Rabaa Square, which security forces cleared in mid-August.

A crowd of students, mostly from Al-Azhar University, started their protest with an on-campus march.

Demonstrators hurled stones at the administrator’s offices, smashing windows and breaking doors, said Ibrahim el-Houdhoud, deputy head of the university. He warned students against leaving campus and clashing with security forces, according to Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr.

Protesters ignored warnings to stay on campus, instead choosing to move out of the main gates to hold what they said were “prayers for the dead” to honor fellow students who died in July clashes with security forces.

Students cut off a main road in Cairo outside a prestigious Muslim institution and started throwing stones at officers positioned outside the gates. Police responded by hurling rocks at demonstrators.

Riot police officers advance towards protesters at Al-Azhar University during clashes in Cairo October 20, 2013 (Reuters / Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Some of the students were trying to reach Rabaa Square but were cut off by security forces, a witness told Reuters.

The Interior Ministry has confirmed that riot police took action after 3,000 students blocked roads around the Al-Azhar campus. The university is located close to Rabaa Square, where Muslim Brotherhood supporters previously set up a sit-in camp which security forces raided and destroyed in August. The raid sparked days of violent protests.

"Rabaa Square is completely off-limits,"
a security source said. "Protesters are not allowed to move inside it."

According a separate source, 11 students were arrested during Sunday’s incident.

"We want the return of legitimate rule to Egypt, we want the return of President Morsi," one of the students said. "We are unarmed students. We just approached them and said 'you are our police' and then they attacked us."

Sunday's clashes marked the second day of unrest at Al-Azhar University - the most prominent center for Sunni Muslim learning and a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian students of al-Azhar university run for cover from a tear gas canister fired by riot police during clashes outside their university campus in Cairo on October 20, 2013 following an anti-army protest (AFP Photo / Khaled Desouki)

"We will take measures to continue studies even with the continuation of the demonstrations," el-Houdhoud said.

Egypt has been facing a new wave of violent protests over the past month. On October 6, at least 53 people were killed and over 200 wounded in clashes between police and supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

Almost four months after the military overthrew democratically elected Morsi, the country remains divided. Non-stop demonstrations are being held by supporters who demand his return.
 
The July coup was followed by a harsh crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, along with arrests of its leaders and other officials. They have been imprisoned and face trial next month.

The former Egyptian leader is also facing trial for inciting the murders of protesters outside the Presidential Palace in Cairo in December 2012, when at least 12 people were killed in clashes.

Egypt’s new rulers also accuse Morsi of conspiring with Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and plotting to attack police stations during the revolution which overthrew his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, two years ago.

Protesters gather amidst remnants of teargas smoke during clashes with riot police at Al-Azhar University in Cairo October 20, 2013 (Reuters / Mohamed Abd El Ghany)


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