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Egyptian students no longer have to specify their religion for university

October 13, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Universities in Egypt will no longer require students and staff to specify their religious identity when applying for places, Cairo University’s president, Gaber Nassar, told the media on Tuesday.

“We noticed several complaints about the possibility of discrimination between students due to the mention of religion,” Nassar told Al-Nahar Al-Youm. “At Cairo University, we don’t take random decisions, we take decisions to amend illegal or unconstitutional situations.” He added that the university had no law or bylaw that requires anyone to mention their religious identity.

The religious specification will be abolished in all faculties and institutions in academia. Those which do not follow the new guidelines will face disciplinary action.

The decision by Cairo University was prompted when a student complained about the need to mention religion, explained Mohamed Abdel Salam. The researcher on the academic freedoms and students’ rights programme at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), told Aswat Masriya that Mina Nader was rejected by Cairo University’s Institute of African Research and Studies last month after being asked to specify “if the applicant is Christian” on the application form.

“The situation is a bit complex,” said Abdel Salam. “Nassar’s decision, although progressive, comes in relation to incidents that have been happening. So we have to understand the context; this was done partly to avoid uproar.”

The university’s decision was made months after parliament reviewed a draft bill to terminate the religious identity specification on Egyptian national identity cards.