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New protests at Egypt's Al-Azhar university

Smoke fills the air after Al-Azhar University students light a fire at their dorm gates to lessen the impact of tear gas fired by police during demonstrations Sunday in Cairo, Egypt. A student spokesman said some students were hurt during the protests. 

Associated Press

Smoke fills the air after Al-Azhar University students light a fire at their dorm gates to lessen the impact of tear gas fired by police during demonstrations Sunday in Cairo, Egypt. A student spokesman said some students were hurt during the protests. 

CAIRO — Egyptian police fired tear gas Sunday in an attempt to disperse supporters of the country's ousted Islamist president protesting at the dormitories of an Islamic university in Cairo.

Students at Al-Azhar University hurled rocks at the police and tried to block traffic on a major thoroughfare outside the campus in eastern Cairo, officials said.

Student spokesman Mahmoud Salah said the police later left the area, and protesters who had taken cover inside the dorm went out to continue their protest. Salah said the students had lit a fire at the dorm gates to lessen the impact of tear gas fired by the police. He also said a number of students were injured and claimed the police had fired shotgun pellets.

Since the start of the school year in September, Egypt's universities have become the main venue for protests by supporters of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, ousted in a popularly backed military coup in July.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest Islamist group and the one from which Morsi hails, has organized protests, with marches on campuses nearly every day. Many of them have led to clashes with security forces. But Al-Azhar University, with largely Islamist students, has seen persistent protests against Egypt's military-backed government.

Authorities have cracked down on Morsi supporters since last summer's coup, widening a net of arrests and legal prosecution to include senior leaders as well as students and protesters.

The crackdown has recently broadened to include other, non-Islamist critics of the current authorities, and a new protest law was passed last month that tightly restricts public gatherings and increases penalties for violators.

New protests at Egypt's Al-Azhar university 12/08/13 [Last modified: Sunday, December 8, 2013 9:26pm]
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