Thursday,22 March, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1216, (2 - 8 October 2014)
Thursday,22 March, 2018
Issue 1216, (2 - 8 October 2014)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

Independence at risk

In a move widely criticised by university professors, last week Ibrahim Mehleb’s cabinet approved a new amendment to the statute regulating university employees, allowing university presidents to expel any staff member in case of breaches of conduct without having to take the usual disciplinary steps.

The new draft comes almost three months after President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi issued a decree reintroducing the system of appointing university presidents, which had been replaced by elections following the 2011 revolution.

Angry professors say the new amendment — passed without consultation with faculty councils — jeopardises the independence of universities. If ratified, they say, decisions by college boards will be dependent upon the appointed presidents for approval.

The 9 March Movement for the Independence of Universities held a press conference on Sunday to express anxiety about the new amendment, releasing its statement to the cabinet and the presidency.

“The amendment will undermine the status of university professors, eliminate their ability to develop education or scientific research and quash any attempt to fight corruption,” the statement reads.

Breaches punishable under the new amendment include private tutorials, inciting violence, organising or inciting protests that “hamper studies” along with acts “undermining the integrity of faculty members”.

The last academic year in Egypt was especially turbulent, with dozens of university students expelled over their role in violent protests and clashes after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The Hajj season

EgyptAir has concluded its transportation of over 16,000 pilgrims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the Hajj: the pilgrimage performed annually by Muslims worldwide. The Hajj season is to commence this week, ending with the four-day Eid Al-Adha  that starts on Saturday.

Egypt’s Religious Endowments Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa made a statement on his arrival in Mecca, urging religious scholars to pursue their spiritual and educational duties away from political and sectarian divisions.

Egypt’s Red Sea Port Authority is also on alert, awaiting the return of 35,000 Egyptians who make pilgrims and Egyptian expats who work in Saudi Arabia during Hajj season. Five ferries will be provided by the authorities to transport pilgrims back to Egypt’s Safaga and Nuweiba ports.

According to Assistant Interior Minister Shaker Al-Kayal, speaking on Monday, so far 13 Egyptian pilgrims have died, a common occurrence in the light of overcrowdings.  In 2013, almost 40 pilgrims died. The majority of this year’s deceased are elderly Egyptians. Al-Kayal stressed that none of the deaths are related to epidemic diseases. 

An outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Saudi Arabia earlier this year had stoked worries about travelling to the holy city, despite the EgyptAir authorities insisting that bookings were unchanged. The disease has claimed the lives of over 300 since its detection two years ago.

The number of Egyptian pilgrims this year will reach 62,000, according to a statement by Al-Kayal.

Slight damages

Two cargo ships were reported to collide on Monday morning on Egypt’s Suez Canal. The German Colombo Express was coming in from the Mediterranean Sea when it hit the Singaporean ship Maersk Tanjong at a point half a kilometre away from Port Said port. Both ships sustained minimal damage; four containers fell into the canal, which the Canal Authority has since retrieved. Navigation along the canal was interrupted for three hours. The Suez Canal Authority sent vessels to lead both ships to the Al-Balah bypass so they could resume their journeys.

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