Cairo: 7 November 2021

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has condemned the decision issued by Cairo University President “Mohamed Othman Al-Khosht” against Abdel Fattah Al-Banna, Professor of Archeology, to suspend him from work for three months and reduce his monthly salary. The decision is a culmination of years of retaliation and crackdown against the academic Abdel Fattah Al-Banna which started in 2018 and is still ongoing; to punish him for his stances on issues of public affairs and freedoms, especially those related to ancient Egyptian antiquities.

Abdel-Fattah Al-Banna, a professor at Archeology Restoration and Maintenance Department, Faculty of Archeology in Cairo University, had been notified to receive a decision issued by the President of Cairo University to suspend him from work in for a period of three months (starting from the date of suspension; for allegedly ensuring the benefit of the investigation and the progress of work and for affecting the course of the investigation and the witnesses from the faculty members at Cairo University. The decision also included presenting a request to pay the professor the quarter of his salary to the Disciplinary Board of the faculty members.

The decision is part of a bundle of unjust decisions issued by Cairo University against professor Abdel Fattah Al-Banna, following his arrest by the National Security Agency on 23 August 2018 and his subsequent pretrial detention upon a decision by the Supreme State Security Prosecution pending investigation into Case No. 1305 of 2018, over which he had been languishing behind bars until the 20th of May 2019, on charges of joining a group that is founded in violation of the provisions of the law and whose purpose is to disrupt the provisions of the constitution and the law.

Cairo University’s President, who issued the aforementioned decision, deliberately ignored and wasted the final judicial rulings issued by the Disciplinary Court and the Supreme Administrative Court to reverse similar decisions issued against professor Abdel Fattah Al-Banna. This new decision, nevertheless, included the same procedures involved in the previous decisions, pertaining to the suspension of work and disbursement of monthly salary.

This court ruling, No. 35 of Judicial Year 54, ruled that “Resorting to preventive suspension from work requires that an investigation be taking place with the respondent, and that the interest of this investigation suspension necessitate this suspension…… and that all documents submitted by the university didn’t refer that the respondent perpetuated any violations that may be a reason for issuing the decision of suspension and for its continuation until the filing of this appeal. Also, the university didn’t submit any documents indicating that investigations had been conducted with respondent (the professor), which makes the challenged decision to suspend him from work as part of the interest of the investigation invalid and unsubstantiated, which makes it illegal. And, accordingly, the court must rescind the decision and its consequent impacts.

ANHRI regrets that the university campus and the academic community have turned into a mere back gate for settling scores and for punishing those with political stances, as part of attempts to blockade and starve political opponents out of belief that this will be welcomed by the political regime. The Arabic Network hence calls for taking that all legal measures to confront this arbitrary decision and reverse it to enable Professor Dr. Abdel-Fattah Al-Banna to be reinstated in his job, stressing that there is no loser but the scientific community and its students who will be deprived of the value and scientific stature of this respectable professor.

ANHRI also reiterates its call to the Minister of Higher Education and the President of Cairo University to put an end to the crackdown and prosecution of professor Abdel Fattah Al-Banna and all academics, and to distance the university and the academic community from the issues of political strife. It also demands that the minister and the university president stand with freedom of expression and academic freedoms instead of supporting the positions of those who represent the political or security authorities in the face of scholars and university professors.