Protest against the military in front of Cair
Protest against the military in front of Cair Reuters

Egyptian security forces have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of student protesters at Cairo's al-Azhar university and, according to the Interior Ministry, arrested 55 students, reported Al Jazeera Sunday. Police reportedly also fired bird shot.

Al-Azhar university is considered the central university in the Muslim world for religious studies, and many students there are supporters of Morsi.

The clashes between protesters and security forces erupted when the students tried to march out of the campus on Sunday. They were responding to a call by the Anti-Coup Alliance for a national uprising against the military-backed leadership that took power after Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted from the presidency on July 3.

Similar demonstrations were held at Cairo University and in the district of Abu Hamad in el-Sharqiyah province.

Ahead of the new term starting on Saturday, the university warned students not to engage in political activity, or risk having classes suspended indefinitely.

Since the start of the academic year in September, there have been several protests in Egyptian university campuses, mostly by supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsi will stand trial on November 4, along with 14 other defendants, over the killings of protesters outside his presidential palace in December 2012, when demonstrators took to the streets against a decree the president issued to shield his decisions from judicial oversight and a highly disputed draft constitution.

Following Morsi's decrees, the Supreme Judicial Council, Egypt's highest judicial authority, described his decision to grant himself new powers putting him above the judiciary as an "unprecedented assault" on the independence of the judiciary.

The edicts gave the president near-absolute power as well as immunity from appeals in courts for any decisions or laws he declares until a new constitution and parliament are in place.