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Monday, October 21, 2013

Four Killed in Church Attack in Cairo

Gunmen opened fire on a wedding at a Coptic church in the Imbaba neighborhood of Cairo on Sunday night, killing four people. Two children – aged 8 and 12 – died in the attack, in addition to a guest and the groom’s mother. No groups have claimed responsibility for the attack yet and the assailants are unknown. One of the gunmen used an automatic weapon, state media reported, and some of the suspects fled the scene on motorcycles. Christians make up ten percent of Egypt’s population and despite their long history of peaceful coexistence with Egypt’s mostly Sunni Muslim population, Christians and Christian infrastructure like churches have come under attack recently from hard-line extremist groups.

Clashes at Al Azhar University

Clashes continued in Cairo on Sunday between supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi’s party the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian security forces.  About 3000 students blocked roads and demonstrated near the university, and were reportedly heading to Rabaa al Adawiya square, according to the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior – the location where security forces violently dispersed protesters earlier this year, killing hundreds. Conflicting reports have emerged about whether state security forces stormed the university campus in an attempt to put down the protests. There were also reports of students setting fire to cars, and of tear gas seeping into university classrooms and disrupting classes. Al Azhar University was founded in the 900s and is one of the most important centers of Islamic learning in the world.

Egypt’s Gulf Aid

After the military took over the Egyptian government in early July and installed an interim governing body, gulf monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and the UAE pledged more than 12 billion in economic aid to Egypt. In keeping with this pledge, Kuwait gave Egypt two billion dollars worth of aid in September. In an interview on Sunday, Egypt’s current prime minister, Hazem Al Beblawi, announced that Kuwait is giving Egypt a five-year window for repayment rather than the expected one year. Egypt’s economy has been in a downward spiral over the past two years due to ongoing political unrest, and Egypt’s overall debt increased significantly while deposed president Mohamed Morsi was in power.

Egyptian Hostages To Be Released

Dozens of Egyptian hostages who were detained in Libya are set to be released today, after successful negotiations by the Egyptian embassy in Libya and Libyan mediators with the group responsible for the kidnappings. Libyan militants kidnapped 20 Egyptian drivers last week, apparently as retribution for the Egyptian government detaining their relatives for weapon smuggling across the border. More Egyptians were kidnapped over the weekend and the number of hostages reached more than 50, though exact numbers are still unclear. “We are ready to release all of them when the Egyptian government intervenes to release the Libyan prisoners in Egyptian prisons,” one of the kidnappers was quoted as saying.


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