Al-Azhar: The University of Terrorism
12 April, 2007
- I was not surprised when some security bureaus announced that one of those who executed the recent Sinai Peninsula bombings was an Al-Azhar University student from the Faculty of The Fundamentals of Religion. I am well aware that this university is one of Egypt's important producers of terrorism through its academic curricula, with which it strongly fills students' minds, and so turns them into human monsters that do not hesitate to harm whoever announces his disagreement with them. This is because their curricula have taught them – in all simplicity – that those who differ from them do not have a place in this life.
- Until not long ago, I used to know about this in a purely theoretical manner, without entering into the midst of a practical experience with the university's students or teachers from the field of material terrorism. Until a few hours before writing these lines, I did not expect to face a violent terrorist operation by those who study at that university, because generalization is harmful in all cases. Just as evil is present, so is good, even if in a quasi minimal state.
This unconsciousness continued to afflict me successively until this morning. I headed off to pick up my papers from the faculty; I was expelled from it by the decision of a disciplinary board about two months ago for freely expressing my opinions. From the moment I entered the door, I felt gazes of wreak and revenge in the eyes of every one who saw and recognized me. When I went to the student affairs office to request my papers, they asked me to wait for a short while because the employee in charge will be present soon.
During the sting of waiting, I decided to take a stroll in the faculty because it could be my last, and I could bid farewell to this ruined nest in which I tasted calamities during my years of studying in it. Once I passed in front of the door, a police assistant guarding the faculty sent to me some of his affiliates, who ordered me to head to the security cabin. I accompanied them, and was surprised with the aforementioned police assistant requesting that I leave the faculty because I'm not allowed to enter it.
I was shocked at this request. I told him that I did not come here wearing an explosives belt around my waist to blow up this place, but rather to pick up my papers because of my expulsion. He said that the employee in charge is absent today, even though I was told by some student affairs office employees that he would be coming in a short while.
Some security officials, including one in civilian clothes, were standing in the room during our quarrel. Students thronged in front of the door, and stared at me with their eyes as though they had found a rare archaeological masterpiece. One of the students shouted at me in an exaggeratingly angry manner, "Are you the one who wrote what's being attributed to you?" I asked him to get away from me because I was not in a state that permitted me to engage in a discussion.
After the police assistant made some phone calls within the faculty, he informed me that my file was at the Legal Affairs office in Cairo to confirm the decision to expel me, and that I have to call the faculty from time to time before coming in order to learn whether the file had returned to its headquarters. I obtained from him the phone number, and then walked out of the faculty through the door designated for students.
The violent phase of this Azhar-shaped University's farce did not begin when I glimpsed at the security official, who was inside, coming toward me with a cylindrical-shaped stick in his hand. At first, he took my hand under one of his arms and asked me to sit with him someplace to discuss something with me. Realizing the danger of this situation, I stripped my hand from under his shoulder and told him that I was in a rush, and that I needed to hurry home. However, he violently pulled me by my clothes, so I ran like the wind toward the back door of the faculty that I had originally exited from.
A university guard glimpsed at me and instantly told me to stay away because I'm prohibited from entering. I asked him, "Do you know what was about to happen to me?" He literally responded, "I know… But I did not see anything!"
At that moment, I clung to the door and asked them to bring me a taxi, because I could not leave under these circumstances. I waited for some time until the police assistant accepted my request. I accompanied him to the public street so I can wait with him to take any taxi ride to the bus stop at the west of the Nile Delta, and from there I would go to Alexandria. However, he asked me to take any other transportation means, and I refused because I couldn't guarantee what might happen inside the vehicle. He told me, "We do not work for your parents," and left me in front of the door.
I did not wait for long before I found a taxi coming toward me. I stopped it and asked the driver to take me to the bus stop. A student sat beside the driver, so I had to sit in the back seat of the car. The driver barely drove away from the faculty door when I found that about twenty students had surrounded the car from all sides, and with them was the security official who was dressed in civilian clothes. In their hands, I saw white weapons [knives], leather belts, and sticks. After forcing the driver to stop, they opened the back doors and forcibly attempted to get me out of the car, but I held onto my seat. They were threatening to kill me in a manner that I had not expected from students who have supposedly been receiving their education in a university. The other student then left the car, and the driver managed to escape them with difficulty. He asked me to get out of the car after driving a large distance from them.
I left the car and ran a sufficient distance from the source of danger, which seconds ago was about to have me killed. I rode another taxi, which took me to my destination. I returned safely, but with some minor scratches and bruises on my feet as a result of what happened with me.
I found myself enquiring: What did I commit so I would face such attacks? Is my mere disagreement with prevalent ideas a matter that requires attacking me and trying to kill me?!
It causes me grief when I find these youths being brainwashed in this manner, transforming into people who harm others for their mere disagreement with them in some of their points of view!
It causes us pity to find that one of our universities is turning into an institution for graduating all kinds of terrorists!
It causes us to cry, be grieved, and be struck with frustration to find ourselves threatened with death. Not because we kill. Not because we loot others' property. Not because we transgress the limits of our freedom. But because we think!
Al-Azhar University does not move a muscle when one of its students blows himself up, or heads off to kill the defenseless innocents. Yet, it raises hell when one of its students has an independent, bold, and free opinion!
Today, and only today, I have realized the truth of the security forces' connivance with religious extremism in Egypt. I learnt well how the regime lives on this terrorism, and that its existence is based on the existence of extremist groups, and the extremist (Al Azhar) university as well. This regime's disappearance is necessarily coupled with their disappearance.
Kareem Amer is an young Egyptian blogger who has been jailed for allegedly insulting Islam. The article below is an English translation of one of his blog entry published on May 7, 2006, approximately two months after his expulsion from Al-Azhar University. The original text can be found at his blog.
This translation was produced by the Free Kareem Coalition , an interfaith alliance of young bloggers and college students committed to the principles of freedom of thought and freedom of speech.
Distribution of this translation is encouraged.
- Editor & Administrator, Free Kareem Coalition.