Student demonstrations have become a daily occurrence at Egyptian universities. Reports estimate that a monthly average of 230 protests were staged on 24 campuses in the first part of the current academic year. By and large, student mobilizations have grown in recent months in response to the unprecedented, forceful suppression of civil rights expressed through traditional channels of political activism.
According to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), 692 students from universities across Egypt are currently being detained in a clampdown that has largely targeted the Islamist component of the anti-military opposition movement, but has also roped in liberal activist and students. Dozens of students have been handed prison sentences of up to 17 years on charges related to demonstrating, belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and inciting violence. Local media have routinely called into question the independence of student political engagement, alleging that the upsurge in student protests is an extension of Muslim Brotherhood–backed activity in various parts of the country.