Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Higher Education Hossam Eissa said Sunday the decision to grant university guards powers to arrest students aims to counter acts of sabotage.
The decision was announced Thursday in anticipation of the start of the new academic year.
Eissa added at a press conference that he is not behind the idea of the law, but he stated: “it is unreasonable not to give [university] security the right to defend buildings against sabotage.”
Ezzat Khamis, spokesman for Egypt's Ministry of Justice, said Thursday that the decision aims to limit rioting and violence on university campuses, especially while Egypt has been experiencing increased political polarisation following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi 3 July.
Part of Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering was torched 15 August after pro-Morsi protesters took refuge in the building following bloody dispersal by the police of a sit-in at Giza’s Al-Nahda Square 14 August. Morsi loyalists blame the police for igniting the fire in a bid to force them from the building, while security forces accuse protesters of setting the building on fire.
In October 2010, Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court upheld a verdict to remove police from university campuses. University police were notorious for heavy-handed tactics against students and their targeting of politically-active members of the student body. In the aftermath of the 25 January uprising, security guards were hired to maintain peace on campuses.