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Nile University: Why is Zewail above the law?

The Student Union of Nile University (NU) held a press conference defying all allegations made against them by Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Ahmed Zewail.

“Our paperwork and legal position are flawless, whereas Ahmed Zewail neither has documents, nor a court sentence in his favor. We challenge Dr. Zewail to get us documents that prove us unworthy of our buildings and land. He cannot be above the law and we will not allow it.” Mahmoud Allam, Software Engineering Program Director at NU announced at the press conference on Sunday.

Even though a recent court order gave NU’s students and staff the right to return to the university's campus and proceed with their academic activities, Dr. Ahmed Zewail refuses to let go of the land that was promised to him by former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik without official paperwork. He is planning to use the land to establish the Zewail City of Science and Technology which will mainly deal with scientific research and development – just as Nile University is doing now.

“Zewail just wants huge, modern buildings to carry his name before he dies,” a parent of one of NU’s students stated during the press conference. “Why can’t both institutions be up and running side by side? Why does the new one have to eliminate the other?”

The press conference came shortly after Zewail visited the campus with former Minister Fayza Abol Naga, Mofty Ali Gomaa, and former Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, in order to place the cornerstone of the first academy of Zewail City on NU-ground – “the stolen land”, as some students and parents like to call it, as these actions clearly defy the above mentioned court order.

Zewail frequently accused the university of being a private institution, whereas its policies and paperwork clearly defines it as a civil, non-governmental, non-profit project. “If the premises belong to the private sector, we ask Zewail to tell us who owns or manages it, so that we would know as well,” another furious parent sarcastically demanded at the conference.

Although he also claims that he placed the cornerstone of his city inside the university’s premises in 2000, no official documents have reached the authorities. Another “sourceless” allegation of the Nobel Prize Laureate was that the President of NU handed him the land, yet the court ordered this claim to be false. He then asserted that he has nothing to do with the legal situation of it all, even though his lawyer filed a lawsuit against NU – which the plaintiff lost – and Zewail later appealed to the court order.

“Zewail offered three solutions which all included us letting go of our buildings, which is not logic and will never happen,” Ahmed Nassaar, Head of NU Student Union stated. “Therefore, we propose that we keep the 50 acres which include our buildings, and give the remaining 250 acres to Zewail City.”

Students, staff and parents are furious that the work at the university is suspended due to illegal actions. “We have a right to continue our studies and we are asking President Mohamed Morsi, Prime Minister Hisham Kandil and the government to intervene and allow us to get what belongs to us already,” the students explain. “We do not understand why an official court order cannot be executed.”

“Today, NU is a settlement,” Nassaar exclaims. NU attendees, researchers and doctors have been facing the dilemma of not being allowed to enter their campus for almost two years, as the entrances of the premises are surrounded by security guards, dogs, and policemen. The students even began a sit-in on the 20th of August 2012, resuming their classes in tents in front of the campus gates and actively trying to continue their academic processes. Some even pursued their graduate degrees under these circumstances.