The 21st of February 1946 marks a shameful memory in the modern Egyptian history. On that day, hundreds of students demonstrating on the movable Abbas Bridge were either shot dead or drowned in the Nile, after British officials ordered to open fire, before finally deciding to open the bridge.
Since then, this day has been commemorated at the Egyptian Students National Day.
Zeinobia tells us more about the historical background during the British occupation for Egypt:
The National student day in Egypt marks the terrible Abbas bridge incident where the British troops along with at that time the Egyptian police attacked hundreds of angry Cairo university and high school students. The students were on their way to present a memo to the king demanding the cancellation of 1936 Egyptian-Anglo treaty. The Abbas bridge was a movable one and in those old days ,it used to be opened so boats and barrages pass by. Most of the Students were on the Abbas bridge when the British forces had opened it, hundreds fell in to the Nile. Many of them had drowned. Despite the sadness of the day the Egyptian people proved its nobility when the men began to jump in to the Nile even those who were not engaged in the protest to save those fighting for their lives.
However this year, Egyptian students decided to celebrate in a different way. Several student movements and groups called for a demonstrations in university campuses demanding the following:
1. A real free education
2. Excluding the university police from universities
3. The cancellation of the current student list, and writing new one that secures more freedom to students
Zeinobia continues in a follow up post:
Anyhow back today, several students groups in the Cairo university decided to protest today on the occasion of the National day, most of these groups are political groups from the Faculty of Commerce. Among those groups are the 6th April Youth, the MB [Muslim Brotherhood], Kefaya, the Nasserists, the socialists and the newly group “My right” . “My right” I believe is heading the movement in the University today more than any other group.
“My right” movement defines itself in its official blog as independent movement that is not associated with any political force that cares for the University students’ rights and opinions.
“My right” today demands certain rights:
• To reduce the fees of the university.
• To kick out the University guard from the campus. “The guards are back with a bad court order :(“
The professors and teachers movement in the university aka “9 March” supports today’s stand and protests. It is not surprising to me ,in fact it is something normal.
Journalist Per Bjorklund, who was there and who has taken the photograph above, described the situation in his post “The students’ first demand: Kick state security out!“:
Students from a broad range of political currents – from Muslim Brotherhood to socialists, Nasserists and the “6 April movement” – demonstrated for several hours at Cairo University today, protesting security interventions on universities and rising tuition fees. Needless to say, the security presence outside the main gates was massive. The students were allowed to protest just outside the campus – surrounded by hundreds of riot police – only after they attempted to force open the locked gates.
On 22nd of February, demonstrations continued and spilled over to other universities too. At least one activist was “kidnapped” – a term used by activists to denote that someone has been detained by authorities and whose whereabouts are not known, not even by their own families and lawyers. Hossam reports:
Another day of protests in the Egyptian universities, with Mansoura and Helwan coming under police siege from the early morning…
Police cracked down on Mansoura students, kidnapping an activist, by the name Motaz Adel, on his way out of the university following the protests. Another two students were picked up by the police in Alexandria…
For a full and detailed coverage of the first day, you can visit Tadamon masr blog [Ar].
You can follow blogs launched prior to the demonstration, some of which were monitoring the events with live blogging like, My right, Socialist students, A Socialist in Egypt, Resistance Students and Egyptian student national day.
Pictures can be found at Ahmed AbdelFatah blog, My right post, Sara Carr , and Bjorklund sets on Flickr.
And you can still find more updates on Hossam’s bookmarks, or the event's Jaiku channel.