11/28/2013, 00.00
EGYPT
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After strikes and protests, al-Azhar throws out more than 200 students

The authorities of the most important Sunni university have decided to crack down on student protests. Since September, students linked to the Muslim Brotherhood have blockaded the university. Their protest is directed at Grand Imam al-Tayeb and top university officials, whom they accused of supporting the military-backed interim government.

Egypt (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Al-Azhar University is cracking down on student demonstrations that have blockaded the institution for many weeks. Today, university authorities expelled some of its students and banned 205 from the campus on accusations of vandalising university property.

Ossama el-Abd, head of al-Azhar university, said that the expelled students were referred to disciplinary councils and were handed varying penalties according to the violations they committed.

Considered one of the most important places of higher learning in Sunni Islam, the university has been the scene in recent months of attacks by Islamist groups.

In a mysterious incident in July, more than 160 students were hospitalised from food poisoning after they ate the university cafeteria.

A court sentenced a top university official and the head of the cafeteria to ten years in prison. The cook got eight.

The Muslim Brotherhood holds Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb and other al-Azhar leaders along with the army and the Coptic Church responsible for the fall of President Mohammed Morsi.

Islamists have also accused al-Tayeb of deliberately poisoning the students.

The climate of tension has increased since the start of the academic year in September. For weeks, pro-Muslim Brotherhood students have blockaded the university.

Police has raided the campus several times to stop the occupation and, on one occasion, the start of a fire.

So far, one person has died and dozens more have been injured in clashes between students and police.

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