Four people died and over 30 were injured on Monday in clashes that erupted between students at Al Hussein Bin Talal University in the southern governorate of Ma'an.There were riots in Egypt's Al Azhar University as well, but for a different reason - food poisoning.
Police and anti-riot gendarmerie forces intervened to restore order in the university campus, vacating the campus from all students and employees.
In details of the incident, an "open day" to celebrate the anniversary of the University's founding on Monday at Al Hussein bin Talal University in Ma'an, 220 kilometers south of Amman, turned bloody as students from two different groups clashed.
Gendarmerie forces used tear gas to disperse the scuffling students, but as the clashes intensified, security forces worked to vacate all students and university personnel from campus.
Over 22 people were arrested as of Monday evening for suspected involvement in the clashes, Minister of Interior Hussein Majali announced.
Clashing students used fire arms, including automatic weapons, and knives in the brawl.
The clashes continued in the city of Ma'an, with local residents using fire arms and live ammunition to attack gendarmerie forces that cordoned off the campus, police said.
Fire Department cadres were able to contain several fires that were ignited during the clashes, including two vehicles that were set ablaze in acts of vandalism.
Observers have been warning of an increasing wave of university violence. Monday's incident comes less than a month after the Higher Education Council suspended classes at Mu'tah University in Karak governorate over riots and acts of violence and vandalism that erupted over student union election results. One student, a fourth year engineering student, died during the clashes and several others were injured.
According to the health ministry, 131 people were admitted to hospital after eating at the university dormitory.The entire Arab world is a tinderbox, and anything can set it off.
The general prosecution has opened an investigation into the incident.
The mass food poisoning is the second of its kind at Al-Azhar University this month. It has triggered reactions from officials, student union members and others.
According to a statement released by the Muslim Brotherhood, President Morsi has contacted Egyptian Student Union deputy leader Ahmed Abdel-Rahman El-Bakry, who is also head of Al-Azhar Student Union, to check on the students’ health.
El-Bakry, a Brotherhood member, said in a statement that he had informed the president of the students’ demands which include the dismissal of the head of Al-Azhar University and his replacement with an elected leader rather than one appointed by the president.
Hundreds of students blocked Nasr Road late Monday in protest at the incident. Some chanted against Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb, just as they had done after the previous mass food poisoning on 1 April. Police used teargas to disperse the students.
After the first food poisoning incident, thousands took to the streets in support of El-Tayeb and against what they believed was a Brotherhood ploy to use the incident to force his sacking and further “Brotherhoodise” Al-Azhar.
“The repeated poisoning of Al-Azhar students, the blocking of roads and chants against the Al-Azhar [grand imam] is like a bad movie and whoever is responsible for it should be held accountable for political stupidity,” Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights leader Hafez Abu-Seada stated via Facebook.