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Egypt to Reopen Churches to Help Ease Sectarian Violence
May 10, 2011

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In an effort to prevent future religion-based clashes in the streets, the Egyptian military-led government has announced that it will consider reopening up to 48 churches that were closed during the reign of former President Hosni Mubarak. 

The move came in response to an escalation in tensions between majority Muslims and minority Coptic Christians in Cairo, the capital. The army had arrested nearly 200 people involved in violent clashes, including the burning of a church, that resulted in 12 deaths and more than 200 injuries. The prime minister, Essam Sharaf, canceled a trip of Gulf states in order to consult with the rest of the government. Protests against the violence took place in Alexandria.

The former tourism minister, Zoheir Garranah, is heading to jail for five years after being convicted of misusing public funds. He will join former Interior Minister Habib el-Adli, who was given a 12-year sentence after being convicted on charges of money laundering. They are the first two members of the Mubarak's cabinet to be convicted. Mubarak himself is still being detained at a hospital, where he was admitted after complaining of heart problems. He is charged with crimes that could get him the death penalty if convicted.

In economic news, the government reported an increase in inflation resulting from higher food prices, which were up 20 percent across the country over 2010 prices. The central bank estimated that the country's growth rate would be as low as 2 percent, down from a forecast of 6 percent earlier this year.



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