The recent decision taken by the student union of the Cairo University’s Faculty of Sciences to withhold funds for a musical performance that promotes liberal values and is critical of extremist thought has come under fire by rights activists
The recent decision taken by the student union of the Cairo University’s Faculty of Sciences to withhold funds for a musical performance that promotes liberal values and is critical of extremist thought has come under fire by rights activists. The decision practically put an end to the efforts of the student theatre group to present the play Samaa Hus (Not a sound!). “The show does not conform with the values and thought of the Faculty of Science students,” a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood-majority student union said.
The association for the freedom of thought and expression said the incident sounds an alarm of the excessive authority student unions possess over the activities of students. Student unions, the association said, should not be allowed to flagrantly interfere in the content of the student activities under elastic broad slogans backed by Islamists.
The story began when a clash occurred between the student union members and the theatre group because of the budget assigned for the show. Even though the theatre group accepted the reduction of the budget to half its original value, the student union members insisted they had to attend the rehearsal before handing the group the assigned budget. Once they attended, they decided to cancel the budget altogether under the pretext that the show included inappropriate scenes and language. The students union also decided to halt the activity of the theatre group altogether until they would decide to perform a ‘suitable script’, otherwise their activity would be totally cancelled this scholastic year.
The association denounced the move by the students union, saying that the members were crudely imposing censorship on artistic activity, which constitutes flagrant assault of freedom of creativity which should be a basic tenet of university life.
According to university regulations, student unions have the right to call off any student activity if two thirds of the union members vote that it does not comply with the union’s objectives. The association denounced this article since it opens the door to fettering student activity.
12 April 2013