University students expelled over anti-president slogans

Egypt’s state-run Beni-Suef University has expelled three students after they were found to have painted slogans on campus criticising the country’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, over the controversial transfer of two strategic islands to Saudi Arabia.

The university’s president, Professor Amin Lutfi, approved the final expulsion of the three after investigations found that they had spray-painted on a campus wall “insulting” slogans against el-Sisi, independent newspaper Al Shorouk reported last week.

Online pictures, allegedly from inside the south Egypt-based university, showed slogans that read: “He [el-Sisi] has sold our land”; and “A killer of youth can easily cede national soil”.

Egypt has seen a security crackdown on Islamist and secular dissidents since 2013 when the army, led at the time by el-Sisi, deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following enormous street protests against his rule.

The three expellees were identified as Ahmed Zaher and Anas Mohamed – both law students – and Hassan Mahmoud, a student of commerce. The expulsion order can be appealed in court.

Lutfi vowed to take legal action against students inciting or participating in violence and attacks on state institutions, according to Al Shorouk.

Dozens of mostly Islamist students at several universities in Egypt have been expelled in recent months after they were found guilty of involvement in violent protests that rocked Egypt’s academic institutions following Morsi’s toppling.

Many other students and teachers have been jailed on similar charges.

Last month, the government infuriated many Egyptians when it unveiled a plan to hand over the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, saying that a new demarcation of maritime boundaries found they fall into Saudi territorial waters.

The plan sparked street protests in several parts of Egypt resulting in dozens of arrests.

The opposition has accused the government of trading the islands for economic aid from the oil-wealthy Saudis, an accusation denied by el-Sisi.