Al Azhar University deplores RI students` repatriation

Cairo (ANTARA News) - The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University Prof.Dr.Ahmed Al-Tayeb has deplored the evacuation of Indonesian students to their home country because their safety was guaranteed.

"Why must they be returned?" Prof.Dr.Ahmed Al-Tayeb asked at his meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s special envoy, Dr.Nur Hassan Wirajuda here Wednesday.

He told Wirajuda who paid a courtesy call to him along with Indonesian Ambassador to Cairo A.M. Fachir that the safety and security of Indonesian students were guaranteed by the University.

In response to the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar University`s deep concern, Wirajuda said the Indonesian government`s temporary evacuation policy was purely motivated by security reasons.

The security consideration and protection of Indonesian citizens were the only reasons for Jakarta to conduct a "temporary evacuation", he said adding that the students would be flown back for Egypt soon after the emergency situation in Cairo had ended.

"The Indonesian government does not send its students home but temporarily evacuates them as a result of emergency situation in Egypt. If the situation has returned to normal, they will return to Cairo to continue their study," he said.

At the meeting, Sheik Tayeb also touched on the Al Azhar University`s student dormitory capacity that could accommodate several thousands of international students, including those from Indonesia.

Many of the international students, especially those from African countries, were still waiting for their turns for having the campus dormitory`s rooms, he said.

"If Indonesian students return to their country, it means that their rooms can permanently be taken over by other students," he said.

The Al Azhar University`s teaching and learning activities had been resumed since February 6 following the semester examination`s holiday and political crisis.

Nur Hassan Wirajuda, who had ever headed the Indonesian embassy in Egypt (1997-1998), visited the country in his capacity as the Indonesian president`s envoy and chairman of the Indonesian-in-Egypt-evacuation task force.

Besides meeting with Al-Azhar University`s grand sheik, Wirajuda also handed over eight tons of food stock (humanitarian aid) for Indonesians in Egypt.

The total number of Indonesians studying at Al Azhar University is currently 3,523 people. They study in undergraduate, master and PhD programs.

Egypt has been rocked by deadly political turmoil over the past 15 days following a series massive protests from those who demand for President Hosni Mubarak`s resignation. (*)