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Islamic State Massacre in Libya Casts Sectarian Shadow on a Village in Egypt

The Intercept -

Just to the right of the entrance of the Church of the Virgin Mary in the village of El Aour is a large poster made from a blown-up screen grab from a video released online by the Islamic State in Libya. The image shows 21 young men kneeling with heads lowered, just moments before their execution; masked Islamic State militants stand behind them, knives at the ready.

Inside the church, a clergyman chants the second Sunday prayer at 7 a.m. Above him, another banner hangs with images of the faces of the young Christians executed in February by the Islamic State. All of those killed are believed to be Egyptian Christians, and 13 of the young men hailed from El Aour, a village in Egypt’s Minya Governorate, some 150 miles south of Cairo.

In mid-February, the Islamic State, which expanded into Libya in late 2014, released a five-minute video showing the beheading of the 21 Egyptian workers. The clip featured the victims wearing the now-familiar orange jumpsuits, being held by knife-wielding militants on a Mediterranean beach. The gruesome killings captured international headlines and sent shockwaves through the Egyptian Coptic community.

Samia Fayig Dal El Gacha, the mother of Samou’il Faraj Ibrahim. (Alex Potter)

Alex Potter

The small village of El Aour has become a microcosm of shifting sectarian conflict in the Middle East, where an event in one country can send ripples into a neighboring one, setting off another dispute. The once quiet rural village now faces conflicts over the construction of a new church to memorialize those killed — the “martyrs” as they’re called here.

A protest in April by local Muslims against the new church turned violent, with some protestors attacking the existing church and destroying property.

The conflict only started after the killings in Libya, according to Samia Fayig Dal El Gacha, the mother of Samou’il Faraj Ibrahim, one of the young men killed in Libya. “Then people started coming to throw things at the church, to fight. Before [Muslims] never fought us,” she says. “But as soon as our boys were killed, then they come threatening [the church].”

The recent attacks against the Copts of El Aour were new to her, she said. She believes that those who attacked the existing church came from outside El Aour.

“There were Muslims in the community who defended the church. They made a line — no car or person could even enter,” she says. “This encouraged me. They stood up for us.”

Faraj Ibrahim Sa’id standing in front of the poster with an image of the 21 men kneeling before their beheading by Islamic State militants.  (Alex Potter)

Alex Potter

Faraj Ibrahim Sa’id, 62, the father of Samou’il Faraj Ibrahim, also brushed off the sectarian tensions in El Aour, saying the aggressors came from outside the community. “People from outside the area came in, from other areas,” he says. “Here the people are quiet, calm. They get along well. There was some trouble, but everything was peaceful.”

Inside the living room of their home in the neighboring village of El Soubi, the television in the background flashing bits of a speech by a former Coptic Pope, Sa’id and El Gacha speak of life with their son living in Libya.

The family spoke to Malaak, as they refer to their son, every other day on the phone from Libya. He lived with other Egyptian Copts in shared apartments in Sirte, hometown of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Aware of the chaos that had enveloped Libya and the persecution facing religious minorities there, El Gacha says the family urged Malaak to return home: “We were always telling him to come home. He said, ‘I’ll come soon.’”

Sa’id adds, “You could sense that he was under pressure, that there was trouble.”

Their last correspondence with Malaak was in late December. Shortly after that, he was kidnapped by Islamic State militants. After that, Sa’id says, they had no news about him until the release of the execution video.

Church of the Virgin Mary, El Aour, Egypt. (Alex Potter)

Alex Potter

Three months after the release of a video by the Islamic State showing his son’s execution, Sa’id, like most of the victims’ families, is stoic about his son’s fate. “In Libya he was often at church, praying,” says Sa’id. “His faith was strong.”

El Minya has a mixed Coptic Christian and Muslim population, and villagers say El Aour is evenly divided between Copts and Muslims.

It was employment, not sectarian strife, which originally drew the villagers to Libya: the El Minya governorate suffers from some of the highest rates of extreme poverty in Egypt. Sa’id’s son Malaak couldn’t make a living for himself, his wife and baby daughter in El Aour, so he went to Libya.

Malaak had a degree in agriculture, and was skilled in painting and plastering, but wasn’t making ends meet. “Even after the diploma, and learning a trade, he found wages in Egypt very little,” says Sa’id.

In May 2014, Malaak, then 30 years old, and some of his friends left to Libya, ending up in Sirte, now under Islamic State control. “He had good work there in Sirte,” says Sa’id.

Employment in Libya has for decades attracted thousands of Egyptians, who work in everything from education to manual labor. In March 2013, it was reported that some 50 Egyptian Copts in Libya were arrested on immigration charges after having been suspected of proselytizing.

Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, says that sectarian conflicts are not new in Egypt: former president Hosni Mubarak ignored the institutional discrimination against Copts that perpetuated inequality.

“Copts under Mubarak didn’t have full rights as citizens in Egypt,” he says, noting that they were kept out of high posts in government like the Interior Minister, governorships and prevented from proselytizing.

In the post-revolutionary power vacuum, Ibrahim says, Islamist groups and parties tried to garner grassroots support by creating an internal enemy out of Egypt’s Coptic minority.

2013 report by Human Rights Watch asserts that the Egyptian government has ignored instances of violence against Copts, even as, in some cases, religious leaders have reportedly incited their followers to attack churches. In the town of Minya, as well as in Minya Governorate, residents told the group that black ‘Xs’ were spray painted on the fronts of Copt-owned shops to set them apart from those owned by Muslims.

Under today’s rule by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, however, Ibrahim says sectarian tensions are on the rise — compared to Mubarak’s reign — with the government using Islamic symbolism to win over political Islamists who once supported the Muslim Brotherhood. “The Sisi regime is using religious speech and morals to show itself as more ‘Islamic’ than the Islamists.”

In the meantime, construction has yet to begin on the new church in El Aour, which will be funded by the Egyptian state, though the budget and presidential permission are ready, according to Magar Issa, a local clergyman. Residents are still waiting for a go-ahead from El Minya’s governor.

Bashir Zaky Hany, 41, uncle of another Copt slain by the Islamic State, speaks calmly while pointing out his nephew from the grim poster image. “When this church is built,” he says, “we will feel that it is an incarnation of our martyrs’ bodies.”

Photo: Alex Potter

The post Islamic State Massacre in Libya Casts Sectarian Shadow on a Village in Egypt appeared first on The Intercept.

Democracy Now! Monday, June 15, 2015

Democracy Now! BitTorrents -

Headlines for June 15, 2015; As Democrats Walk Out on Obama's TPP Deal, Where Does Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Stand?; Israeli Report Finds 2014 Gaza War "Lawful" and "Legitimate" Ahead of Critical U.N. Investigation; What Do 800-Year-Old Magna Carta & Black Lives Matter Have in Common? A People's Historian Explains

Best practices to build bridges between tech teams

LXer -

Robyn Bergeron makes life awesome for people participating in the Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana communities. Passionate about improving ease of development and deployment of infrastructure and applications, she tirelessly advocates for end-users of open source projects, which why her current title is Operations Advocate at Elastic.read more

Bethesda Unveils New Doom Game, Announces Dishonored 2

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: Bethesda kicked off this year's E3 expo by unveiling the new Doom game they've been working on and announcing a sequel to the popular fantasy action-adventure game Dishonored. They've posted a gory trailer (YouTube) for Doom, and shared several minutes of gameplay footage as well. The game is due out in Spring 2016 for Xbox One, PS4, and PCs, and it will include an editor that will let players make new maps and gameplay modes. Dishonored 2 has a trailer as well, though fewer details have been shared about the game. Bethesda also added details to their recent announcement of Fallout 4. It's been given a release date of November 10th (2015), and they did a live demo on stage at E3 (YouTube) with a bunch of game footage.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Fallout 4 can turn your phone into a Pip-Boy

Liliputing -

One of the most iconic elements of the classic Fallout series of video games is the Pip-Boy, a wrist-worn computer that lets you check your inventory, stats, quests, and other details. The Pip-Boy concept was introduced in the first game which was released in the late 90s, long before smartphones and wearable computers became a […]

Fallout 4 can turn your phone into a Pip-Boy is a post from: Liliputing

Democracy Now! 2015-06-15 Monday

Democracy Now! Videos -

Democracy Now! 2015-06-15 Monday
  • Headlines for June 15, 2015
  • As Democrats Walk Out on Obama's TPP Deal, Where Does Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Stand?
  • Israeli Report Finds 2014 Gaza War "Lawful" and "Legitimate" Ahead of Critical U.N. Investigation
  • What Do 800-Year-Old Magna Carta & Black Lives Matter Have in Common? A People's Historian Explains

Download this show

Kite mapping

Raspberry Pi -

This is something I’ve been meaning to try for myself in some of the ruined iron-age villages up on the moors in Cornwall and Devon one summer. Richard Hayler and his son learned about kite mapping at last year’s EMF festival, where the younger Hayler won the workshop competition. The prize? Two kite kits.

Richard had noticed that most kite mapping projects use cheap, second-hand consumer cameras from eBay; if the camera has a continuous shoot mode, and a bit of cardboard could be wedged over the shutter button, it’s useable. But Richard realised:

However, even a second-hand camera could set you back £30 or so – comparable to the cost of a Raspberry Pi A+ and camera. I’d been thinking about a Pi-based kite-mapper over the winter and when I saw that AverageManVsRaspberryPi had released a new version of the excellent ProtoCam board for the A/B+, I decided to see what we could put together.

Why use a Pi and camera board? You get tons of extra functionality. The Haylers could calculate how high the kite was flying, add some image stabilisation, and ensure the Pi was only taking pictures when the camera was pointing straight down (essential in blustery weather). It gives them the potential to add GPS logging to the pictures, and much more. Alongside the ProtoCam (we love these little boards – they’re a prototyping board that you can slot your Pi camera into, and are brilliant for adding buttons, leds, displays or whatever else you want to the camera), they bought a Freescale Xtrinsic Sensor Board, which incorporates an altimeter, an accelerometer and a magnetometer, and can be plugged straight on to the Pi’s GPIO pins.

Stacked together, the whole payload looks like this:

Richard walks you through the build and through the tests they ran over at his blog; since then, he’s also run some more test flights and has refined the hardware with a case and some other tweaks. The results are joyous.

This is a terrific project for schools to get into: in an environment where cross-curricular resources are increasingly important, kite mapping is something that can roll history, geography and, of course, computing up with physics and maths. Not bad for a day out with a kite.




The post Kite mapping appeared first on Raspberry Pi.


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