The Egyptian prosecutor general on Monday referred to trial 71 students of the prestigious Al-Azhar University on charges of joining the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and holding illegal protests.
According to a judicial official, hundreds of students have been tried in civilian courts after violence on campuses, bastions of pro-Islamist activists since the army’s overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
The students from Al-Azhar, the highest seat of learning in Sunni Islam, indicted on Monday were arrested in separate clashes with security forces since the October start of the new academic year, the official said.
They are being charged with taking part in unauthorised protests, rioting, assaulting security forces and joining the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo has branded a “terrorist group”, the official added.
The authorities have enforced new regulations to limit student protests on campuses calling for Morsi’s re-instatement, many of which degenerate into clashes with security forces.
In November, five university students were referred to military trial for allegedly torching a university building during a pro-Morsi protest.
The measure was applied under a law passed in October expanding the army’s powers to try civilians.