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Monday, October 14, 2013

Egyptians Celebrate Eid al-Adha

Millions around Egypt are preparing to attend early morning prayers tomorrow to commemorate Eid al-Adha, which is both a national holiday in Egypt and a holy Muslim feast day. The holiday commemorates the Quranic story of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) and his willingness to sacrifice his son at God’s command, before God intervenes and provides him with a lamb to sacrifice instead. After morning prayers on Tuesday, many families will sacrifice a lamb or cow and donate the meat to the poor. In honor of the holiday, children traditionally receive a small sum of money and new clothes. A pro Morsi coalition has called for protests during the Eid, and Egypt has closed the Rafah border with Gaza in anticipation of potential unrest.

US Citizen Found Dead in Egyptian Prison

A US citizen who was found dead in an Egyptian prison yesterday apparently hung himself. James Lunn, 55, was arrested six weeks ago by Egyptian security forces after curfew hours in the town of Ismailia, near the Suez Canal. Egyptian security forces accused Lunn of working with Hamas, the Islamist group that governs the Gaza strip.  State media reported that he was a former military officer but the US embassy refuted this information yesterday. Egyptian authorities were in the process of investigating Lunn and recently extended his detention for another 30 days. The news of his death comes only a few weeks after a French citizen who was detained because of curfew laws was beaten to death in prison.

  14 Arrested for ‘Practicing Homosexuality’

On Sunday, Egyptian police raided a medical center in northeast Cairo and arrested 14 people between the ages of 18 and 57 on charges of ‘practicing homosexuality.’ Authorities said that they received information that the patrons of the center were involved in ‘indecent acts.’ Homosexuality is not officially outlawed in Egypt but people have been arrested in the past in similar incidents on charges of “moral depravity,” according to Mada Masr. After the January 2011 revolution in Egypt there were some signs that the gay rights movement was gaining a foothold in Egyptian society, but real, tangible change in the form of government protections or laws has yet to materialize.

Military Plane Crashes in Luxor, One Killed

A military fighter jet engaged in training exercises crashed near Luxor yesterday, according to Egyptian officials. The plane crashed in Madamoud village and killed a farmer. The pilot and two bystanders were injured, state media reported. The plane apparently experienced a “sudden malfunction” and various parts caught fire and detached from the plane in mid-air.

Tourism Slowly Increases in Egypt

Despite all of the violence and political tumult in Egypt over the past several months, tourist numbers are beginning to slowly climb back up from the rock-bottom levels of this summer. In early July, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was ousted from power in what has been described as both a military coup and a revolution. In the following weeks, Egyptian security forces opened fire on protesters on several different occasions, killing hundreds. Violent attacks in the Sinai peninsula have also increased. However, after Germany lifted a travel advisory to Egypt last month, German tourist numbers have increased in Egypt, and Austrian and Russian hotel and tour operators expect to see similar results if conditions stabilize. The US, Britain and Russia still have stern travel advisories in effect.

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