Egyptian security forces have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of students protesting against military rule at Cairo's al-Azhar university and, according to the Interior Ministry, arrested 55 students.

Clashes between protesters and security forces erupted when the students tried to move their protest out of campus on Sunday. Protesters were seen throwing rocks at security forces and a number of students were arrested. 

The group organising the march was responding to a call by the Anti-Coup Alliance for a national uprising against the military-backed leadership that took power after President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on July 3.

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Protesters were also demanding the release of political detainees.

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

A witness told Reuters news agency that police fired bird shot and tear gas to prevent protesters from marching to the site of a protest camp that was destroyed two months ago.

Al-Azhar is in the same Cairo suburb as the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the scene of a former pro-Morsi sit-in where hundreds of protesters were killed as security forces broke up the sit-in.

"Rabaa Square is completely off-limits," a security source said. "Protesters are not allowed to move inside it."

Al-Azhar university has long been regarded as the foremost institution in the Islamic world for religious studies, and many students there are supporters of Morsi.

The Interior Ministry told Al Jazeera that 55 students were arrested

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

Since the start of the academic year in September Egyptian university campuses have witnessed a number of protests, mostly by supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood.

Protests for and against military rule have been held almost daily in various Egyptian cities since Morsi was overthrown and detained.

Hundreds of people have been killed in clashes as security forces have cracked down on Islamist-dominated sit-ins and scores of Brotherhood members have been detained.

Morsi will stand trial on November 4 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.

Source: Al Jazeera