Egyptians lift siege on peacekeeper base at Israeli border (JERUSALEM POST) By OREN KESSLER, REUTERS 03/23/12)
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Egyptians who had surrounded the base of an international
peacekeeping force in the Sinai Peninsula lifted their blockade on
Wednesday after negotiations with the Egyptian authorities, a
security source said.
The Egyptians from the town of Rafah near the border with the Gaza
Strip had blocked access to the base – home to soldiers monitoring
the Israeli- Egyptian border – to pressure the government to release
two of their relatives from prison.
The authorities agreed to reopen the investigation into kidnapping
charges brought against the pair, the source said.
The protesters, some of them armed, had blocked access to the base
since Tuesday afternoon, using burning tires and vehicles. It was the
second time the base had been blockaded in a week. An eight-day siege
by armed Beduin, also demanding the release of relatives, was lifted
The base belongs to the multinational force that oversees observance
of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel through patrols of their heavily
Peacekeeping officials were not immediately available for comment.
State control has weakened in the Sinai Peninsula since Hosni Mubarak
was ousted from the presidency last year.
Popular elections have ushered in an Islamist-dominated parliament,
and the post-Mubarak era has seen worsening relations between Egypt’s
Muslim majority and estimated 10 million Coptic Christians.
This week the Muslim Brotherhood – whose Freedom and Justice Party
holds about 40 percent of parliamentary seats – seized the
opportunity of the Coptic pope’s death on Saturday to present an
image of tolerance toward Christians.
Brotherhood chief Mohamed Badie on Tuesday praised the late
patriarch, Shenouda III, as a “true patriot.”
“Pope Shenouda’s true patriotism was evident in many situations over
his long life,” Badie said, according to the Brotherhood website
Badie reserved special praise for Shenouda’s prohibition on Coptic
pilgrimage to Christian holy sites in Israel. “I remember him
saying: ‘We will not visit the Church of the Resurrection
[Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre] except with our Muslim
brothers when they visit al-Aksa Mosque,’” he said.
The remarks came a day after Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a cleric who is the
Brotherhood’s chief ideologue, lauded Shenouda for refusing to let
his followers visit “occupied” Jerusalem and for “respecting” Shari’a
“We share with our Coptic brothers their huge grief, and we wish them
all the best in their new lives and the choosing of a new Pope,
cooperating with their fellow Egyptian brothers to build together a
new free, democratic, pious Egypt,” Qaradawi said, according to the
state-run Al-Ahram newspaper.
“We hope that Muslims and Christians together make a new life based
on solidarity, love, forgiveness, peace, cooperation on
righteousness, piety, truth and patience,” he said. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 03/23/12)
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