Activists in Sudan are calling for the President of al-Ahfad Women’s University to be held accountable for a brutal attack caught on video on a student.
The attack came to light on January 10 when a video went viral on Sudanese social media purported to be showing al-Ahfad University president, Professor Gassim Badri, savagely assaulting a female student and throwing her to the ground during an attempt to break a gathering of student protesters at the women’s university courtyard.
University administration staff who under a gag-order since Thursday admitted to Al Arabiya English that the incident did take place but stated that the video goes back to 2013 and only resurfaced now in attempt to target the university and its administration.
Layla Hisham, a student at the university, confirmed that the video clip was filmed in October 2013 when the president tried to prevent students from demonstrating in the streets. However, she stated that this was not the only time an assault on a student has taken place.
Hashim said that another incident of assault happened as recently as January 9. “The other day, the president slapped another girl. The girl defended herself and slapped him back. He apologized to her and kissed her forehead.”
She said that the incident took place while the students were gathered in protest against the high prices of food at the university. They were prevented from going out to the street by the president who clashed with a student and slapped her, once she slapped him back he started crying and apologized to her, she said.
Timing of the leak
Hisham added that violence is inappropriate and strongly condemned by the female students, pointing out that the timing of the video leak raises suspicions. She added that the university has been and continues until this moment to prevent female students from protesting in the street, like their peers in other universities
Amal Habbani, a member of a Sudanese civil society Initiative to stop oppression against women, ‘No to Women Oppression’, explained that Professor Badri needs to clarify the circumstances related to the incident and apologize to the student and the Sudanese society.
“The president’s role in society along with his academic status and his support for women in rural areas and cities puts him in a very difficult position and he has to respond to what happened,” Habbani told Al Arabyia English. Professor Badri has so far made no comment on the uproar caused by the video.
On the other hand, civil society activist Tahani Abbas from Khartoum based SIMA center for prevention of violence against women and children, strongly condemned the incident. She rejected the idea of beating university students under any justification or pretext.
She told Al Arabiya English that she also condemns the use of foul language online to insult the president of the university. Ahmed Abdul Rahman a Khartoum based human rights lawyer called on the administration of Al-Ahfad University to fire the president.
He asserted that al-Ahfad University, a long-standing educational institution, was severely damaged by the current director and his actions especially since many parents have become skeptical with the quality of education their daughters receive in the institution.