An Egyptian jihadist group calling itself “Soldiers of Egypt” bombed a police outpost across from the University of Cairo Wednesday, injuring 11 people. It is the latest in a series of small bombings and attacks, which the group claimed is a response to “a rise in killing and maltreatment incidents against students.” Al-Ahram reports:
Cairo University, along with other campuses nationwide, has been the scene of unrest since the start of the new academic year two weeks ago, with recurrent clashes occurring between police and alleged Islamist students protesting against the government.One student was killed by birdshot following clashes with police at the Faculty of Engineering in Alexandria University, marking the first death in such clashes this year.So far, police have stormed at least five universities and arrested over 180 students.The students, many loyalists of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, are protesting against the current government, saying it is part of a “coup” that ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
In addition to the arrests, student organizations have been banned, and the government has brought in police, the military, and a private security contractor to quell the university uprisings. Calling for an end to the protests, Egypt’s Prime Minister this week told the press that “universities are a place for learning, not throwing Molotov cocktails.”Since the 1980s, Egyptian student associations have been a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has used them as an informal political power base as well as a recruiting ground. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s, but the younger generation, perhaps egged on by jihadists and seething in the wake of Sisi’s crackdown, may be coming around to embracing violent resistance. A group like Soldiers of Egypt could be seeking to exploit the huge rift that exists between the octogenarian, imprisoned Guidance Council of the Brotherhood and its less cautious, more politically engaged youth wing.While there’s no evidence that Soldiers of Egypt has gained direct recruits from these protests or the bombings, President Sisi clearly has a youth problem, and risks creating a potentially violent new generation of the Brotherhood just as he has finished wiping out the non-violent old guard.