Student murder stokes fears of Egypt's Islamists

July 5, 2012 • World News

Egyptian boys hold posters of Ahmed Hussein Eid who was fatally stabbed by three bearded men during his funeral procession in the city of Suez, Egypt, Wednesday, July 4, 2012. The murder of a university student by suspected militants as his girlfriend looked on is fueling fears in Egypt that vigilante groups seeking to enforce a strict interpretation of Islam’s teachings may be feeling confident with an Islamist president in office to take over the streets. (AP Photo)

CAIRO (AP) — Three bearded men approached a university student and his girlfriend during a romantic rendezvous in a park and ordered them to separate because they weren’t married, according to security officials. An argument broke out, ending with one of the men fatally stabbing the student.

The June 25 attack has alarmed Egyptians concerned that with an Islamist president in office, vigilante groups are feeling emboldened to enforce strict Islamic mores on the streets.

Islamists, including members of one-time violent groups, were empowered after last year’s ouster of Hosni Mubarak’s secular regime by a popular uprising. They formed political parties and won about 70 percent of parliament seats in elections held some six months ago, although a court dissolved the legislature.

Moderate Muslims along with liberal and women’s groups now worry that Mohammed Morsi’s presidency will eradicate what is left of Egypt’s secular traditions and change the social fabric of the mainly Muslim nation of 82 million people.

Some activists say Islamists already are flexing their muscles in areas outside Cairo and other main cities, taking advantage of the absence of civil society groups and tenuous security in the areas.

They cite reports of efforts to persuade drivers of communal taxis, mostly minibuses that can seat up to 16, to segregate women and men passengers. In some instances, women’s hairdressing salons were told to get rid of male employees or threatened with closure.

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