Around 50 Students Hurt in Clashes with Police over Book Protest

Published May 8th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Around 50 students were hurt Monday in clashes with police who opened fire with tear gas and rubber bullets at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, during protests against a Syrian novel, denounced as blaspheming Islam.  

Five of them were in a serious condition in nearby hospitals, emergency services told AFP. 

Thousands of students have been protesting at Al-Azhar since Sunday night over the publication of a new edition of "Feast of the Sea Algae," by Syrian writer Haidar Haidar.  

Police said three policemen were taken to hospital with injuries while 10 cars and two buses were also damaged by stones when 5,000 students took to the streets, prompting police to open fire with tear gas.  

The head of the university, Ahmad Omar Hashem, went immediately to the scene of the riot to calm students and told them the government had decided to withdraw the book from bookstores, police said. 

The students have been demanding the resignation of Culture Minister Faruq Hosni, whom they blamed for allowing publication of a new edition of "Feast of the Sea Algae," by Syrian writer Haidar Haidar. 

The campaign against the Syrian writer and Egyptian culture minister was launched at the beginning of the month by the bi-weekly newspaper Al-Shaab. 

Shaab writer Mohammed Abbas accused Haidar of "insulting God and the Prophet. The Syrian writer treats the Koran as rubbish and the Prophet Mohammed as a polygamist who married 20 times." - (AFP) 






© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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