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University staff fired for participating in peaceful demonstration

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 18 July 2012 - ANHRI denounces the continued presence of former members of Mubarak's regime in positions of power, such as universities. Ahmed Zaki Badr, former minister of education and now the president of Akhbar El-Youm Academy, arbitrarily fired six employees due to their participation in a demonstration calling for his dismissal.

Mohamed Atwa, Nagla Ismail, Hossam Hosni, Yahia Zakaria and Mohamed Abdulaziz, were among those dismissed.

Although demonstrations calling for the president's dismissal were held at the beginning of the academic year, Zaki Badr fired the employees at the end of the year. Some academic staff participated in the demonstrations and were administratively investigated at least three times as a result. "Zaki Badr, a minor dictator and one of the remnants of Mubarak's regime, feared the reaction of the students and therefore decided to take action at the end of the academic year. During this time, the university is empty as employees are also on holiday," stated ANHRI.

News reports quoted Mohammed Atwa stating that "Zaki Badr filed a lawsuit against them [the dismissed employees] and said to them: 'I will not just fire you, but I will send all of you to jail too'." Four of the dismissed employees said they filed an appeal of their dismissal, which is effective at the beginning of September.

They said that the administration also deducted up to 9000 Egyptian pounds (approx. US$1485) from their salaries. They tried to arrange a meeting with the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Akhbar El-Youm Foundation Mohamed Hawary on multiple occasions but their requests were rejected.

Ahmed Zaki Badr has a dark record with regards to suppression of freedoms. He is the son of former minister of interior Zaki Badr, whose time in power is considered a period of brutal human rights violations, including the spread of the practice of torture in the country's prisons. Ahmed Zaki Badr was president of the University of Ain Shams before becoming the president of Akhbar El-Youm Academy. During his term at Ain-​​Shams, thugs - backed by elements of the security forces - entered the campus on several occasions and assaulted protesting students. In at least one instance, he oversaw the abuse of the students, and referred them for investigation after dismissing them.

Zaki Badr was deposed as minister of education in January, following the revolution. At the end of 2011, he was appointed as president of the Akhbar El-Youm Academy by the previous Chairman of the Board of Directors.

ANHRI said "firing staff in this way, for having simply expressed their views, is a blatant infringement on labor laws and academic freedom."

ANHRI calls on the chairman of Akhbar El-Youm to interfere immediately to resolve the problem and reverse the arbitrary dismissals and review its previous position of supporting Zaki Badr. Its also urges the Ministry of Higher Education to review the laws on the appointment of the heads of private institutes and universities. It recommends that they be elected, as opposed to appointed, as the new law still allows for appointments under certain circumstances.

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