Al-Azhar mufti sacks principal amid protests over alleged food poisoning

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Grand Mufti Ahmed al-Tayeb of Egypt’s al-Azhar University dismissed on Wednesday the principle, Osama al-Abed, amid student protesting after alleged food poisoning struck more than 500 students.

University students surrounded the religious institution Wednesday, demanding the grand mufti also step down.

Doctors told Al Arabiya's Cairo correspondent that the general medical situation was stable, and cases were not severe.

In the same vain, al-Azhar students blocked a motorway on Wednesday to protest against the quality of campus food.

“We’ve complained a lot about this before. I’ve seen worms in the food with my own eyes,” one student at the hospital told Al Arabiya's Cairo correspondent.

Egypt’s Prosecutor General Talaat Abdullah ordered on Tuesday an investigation into the alleged food poisoning, and Tayeb has called for the situation to be addressed immediately.

Abed has ordered the referral of university officials in charge of nutrition to the general prosecution. The officials have also been suspended from work until investigation results are announced.

However, the calls to dismiss Tayeb were seen by many as politically driven and encouraged by some Islamist parties.

The university is affiliated with al-Azhar mosque, the world's foremost seat of Sunni Muslim learning, and awards degrees in sciences and humanities as well as in religious studies.

Food poisoning is not uncommon in Egyptian university dormitories, where basic hygiene standards are often not observed, but the latest outbreak is the biggest in years.

In Tuesday's protest, thousands of al-Azhar students blocked the Salah Salem road, a vital artery linking the city's south to its eastern districts. Some of them broke into el-Tayeb's offices on Salah Salem road near the university's main campus in the medieval part of Cairo.

The students also protested on Monday, blocking roads outside their dormitories and chanting slogans against the university's management.

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