Egyptian Students Released after Book Protest, Two Reported Tortured to Death

Published May 13th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Dozens of Egyptian students arrested during a riot over a book they said insulted Islam have been released by the authorities, said BBC.online Saturday. 

It added the 75 students released on Friday could be re-arrested because prosecutors have not closed the case, correspondents said, quoting security sources.  

However, two Cairo students were claim to die under police torture following the violent demonstrations over the publishing of the novel, the leader of a London-based Islamic organization 

said Friday. 

Ahmed Abdel Warif, a student at Al-Azhar University's education faculty, and an unidentified engineering student died Thursday, Islamic Observation Centre (IOC) chief Yasser al-Serri told AFP in Cairo by telephone from London, citing university student sources. 

Serri said the two had "died from torture in the custody of the state security service after being removed for questioning from hospital", where they were recovering from wounds sustained in clashes with police on Monday. 

But the service's Gaber bin Hayan branch in Dokki, where Serri said they had died, denied the report, saying no Al-Azhar students had died there. 

More than 50 students were hurt, some by rubber bullets, in violent demonstrations at Al-Azhar to denounce the republication of a novel, "Feast of the Sea Algae," which the students say desnigrates the prophet Mohammad and the Muslim holy book, the Koran. 

Six police officers were also hurt by rocks thrown by demonstrators. 

According to a statement from Al-Azhar students sent to AFP in Cairo by the IOC, the university campus is currently "under siege" from security forces who are arresting anyone who leaves for questioning over the riots. 

They said around 60 students suffering wounds from Monday's clashes were still inside the campus, six of them in a "serious condition." 

"Troops and the authorities are at the gates arresting anyone who leaves and taking them to Gaber bin Hayan for electric shock treatment, terrorization and Satanic torture," the statement said. 

Witnesses told AFP there was no obvious police presence Friday at the campus gate where riots took place on Monday, but that there were some injured students still inside the university afraid to leave for treatment. 

Haidar Haidar, the Syrian author of the novel which was first published in 1983, has said the campaign against "Feast of the Sea Algae" is based on passages taken out of context. 

Al-Azhar, the most prestigious seat of learning for Sunni Muslims, has 195,000 students in all disciplines and attracts thousands of students from around the world. 

Yasser al-Serri, an Egyptian Islamist, was sentenced to death at home for taking part in a failed attack against former prime minister Atef Sidqi in 1993. 

He now lives in London and runs the IOC with the declared aim of upholding the rights of Muslims around the world – (Several Sources) 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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