“Now, at school, I fear for my life”
That day, the university had organized an Open House to celebrate its anniversary. There were several activities planned, including concerts, poetry contests, art contests, etc. Things started getting out of control when a young student sought help from members of the al-Houaytet clan [a southern tribe]. This young man, who comes from another city, asked the tribe for protection. He was hiding from a group of young men from the city of Maan who accused him of hitting one of them. The al-Houaytet, known for being proud to a fault, of course refused to hand the young man over. It all went downhill from there.Photo posted on the Facebook page AHU News.
The shootout took place around 3 p.m. I wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly how it started. But both sides started throwing rocks, and then the first gunshots rang out. The fighting continued for over an hour before the police intervened. A student and one of my professors, Mahmoud al-Baouab, died after being hit by stray bullets.
The people of the al-Houaytet tribe were furious because they lost two of their members. They also burned tires and blocked off the main road [known as the Saharan road]. They even started asking passersby to show them their identification cards. They seemed to be looking for very specific people.Photo posted on the Facebook page AHU News.This is the first time something so dramatic has happened here. However, tribal conflicts are sadly commonplace in our country’s universities. Clashes notably tend to happen during student government elections, because each tribe wants its own clan to be elected. The worst part is that tribe members often have firearms – both pistols and automatic weapons. These guns are often obtained illegally, but the government seems incapable of dealing with this problem.The university will remain closed until Sunday. I am not in a hurry to return, because I now fear for my life, and I’m still very shaken by the death of my professor, who had two children and was beloved by his students.