Leading university suspends two pro-Morsi lecturers

Two Egyptian university professors who worked as aides to Egypt's ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi have been suspended from duty for alleged violence and graft, in the latest crackdown on sympathisers of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

Cairo University, the country's major seat of learning, said that political science lecturer Pakinam Al Sharqawi had been suspended for three months to face a probe for allegedly inciting pro-Morsi violence on campus.

The state-run university has also accused Al Sharqawi of violating the institution's rules by allegedly keeping her job as lecturer while also serving as an advisor to Morsi before he was deposed by the military in July last year following massive street protests against his one-year rule.

Seif Abdel Fattah, another political science professor who served as an advisor to Morsi, has also been suspended for three months and will face a probe for purportedly being paid by Cairo University as lecturer while working with the Islamist leader.

"Both Dr Pakinam Al Sharqawi and Dr Seif Abdel Fattah worked as advisors to the toppled president without permission from the university and got salaries from the university and the presidency at the same time," said Gaber Nassar, president of Cairo University.

"The university administration is not covering up any corruption. Both professors are facing investigations. Penalties awaiting them range from a warning letter to expulsion," Nassar said in a recent interview.

'Politically motivated'

Al Sharqawi has dismissed the charges as politically motivated.

"It is an attempt to suppress opposition voices. I have been referred to investigations in response to an unsigned complaint alleging that I instigated a number of students to cause rioting at a tribute ceremony held at the faculty of political science in January," Al Sharqawi wrote on Facebook.

"This is untrue. I can't understand how a university could heed such silly and indefensible allegations. Instead of closing the investigation, they decided to suspend me from work until the findings of the inquiry are announced."

Al Sharqawi also denied that she had been paid for both jobs.

"When I was appointed as a presidential advisor for political affairs, I was seconded by the university and was only paid by the presidency. The situation remained like this until I returned to the university [after Morsi's overthrow]."

Al Sharqawi said she would take legal action against the university's decision to suspend her.

Abdel Fattah, a vocal critic of the military, was not immediately available for comment.

Hundreds of Morsi's backers, including several academics, have been detained for alleged involvement in violence since his removal.

Morsi, a former engineering professor, is facing several trials on multiple charges ranging from inciting protester deaths and conspiring with foreign groups to orchestrating a mass prison escape during a 2011 revolt against his predecessor Hosni Mubarak and showing contempt for the judiciary.

Last December, the Egyptian government designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation - a charge that carries a possible death penalty in Egypt.