Flyers calling for a boycott posted on the doors of an exam room at Al-Azhar university in Cairo.
Al-Azhar University in Cairo is fraught with tension in this final exam period. Although exams started on Saturday, many students that support the Muslim Brotherhood have chosen to boycott them. These students wish to denounce the sanctions that have been imposed on their fellow students who dared to openly support ousted president Mohammed Morsi in the last few weeks.
Student organisations at Al-Azhar that are pro-Muslim Brotherhood have united under the banner of the “coordination committee of Al-Azhar” and called for a boycott. Some students were satisfied with boycotting their own exams, while others went one step further and blocked the access points to buildings, forcing professors to turn back. Meanwhile, at the agronomy school, students went into the examination hall and tore up the exam prompts in protest.
This video shows how exam rooms were barricaded by pro-Morsi students. 
These protests did not unfold smoothly: in several women’s schools within Al-Azhar, there were clashes between students and proctors. Meanwhile, the university administration continued to claim that the exams were unfolding as planned.
This video shows a clash between students and a security guard.
Since Morsi was ousted by the army last July, Al-Azhar University has been the scene of several incidents linked to the political situation in Egypt. Clashes broke out on several occasions between pro- and anti-Morsi camps, but also with the police.
This large university trains thousands of students every year in a number of disciplines — law, medicine, business, etc. It is also one of the main universities for the study of Islam, and hosts many imams from around the world. The university is known as the most influential Sunni authority in the world.
On Tuesday, Egyptian prime minister Hazem Beblawi called the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organisation” following a car bomb attack in the north of Egypt.

“I do not understand how the administration can still be holding final exams under these conditions”

Mohamed Ahmed Atef is an architecture student at Al-Azhar University. He is a member of the Al-Azhar Student Union, one of the groups that called for the final exams boycott.
We first called for a boycott of classes about a month ago, following a new wave of police repression that targeted our fellow students. We wanted to protest the fact that, on November 21, the government gave the police the green light to enter the university, without agreement from the dean [according to the authorities, this decision was taken in response to the violent clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi groups that broke out when classes resumed in October].
A student died after being struck by buckshots when the police stormed a student dorm. Prior to this, a number of students had been arrested, and they were later sentenced to prison time [The Cairo tribunal sentenced 38 students to 18 months in prison for “participating in violent acts”].
“Students that are refusing to join our boycott are trying to scare us, telling us that we will fail all our classes for the year”
Our demands are straightforward: we want more information on the circumstances under which our fellow student was killed, and we request that the detained students be freed and that the university campus become off-limits once again for the police. We also want the student organisations budget to be unfrozen, as it has been paused since the start of the year. Our group is one of those that have been outlawed on university grounds. [This rule only applies to the groups that support the Muslim Brotherhood].
We had announced from the start that we would protest until the very end, which meant the boycott of exams. I don’t understand how the administration can still be holding final exams under these conditions. Students that are refusing to join our boycott are trying to scare us, telling us that we will fail all our classes for the year. But we remain confident: given the number of students that boycotted the exams, they will necessarily have to be pushed to the start of next semester. In any case, we are ready to face the consequences.
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Sarra Grira (@SarraGrira).