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Funeral Services to be Held in Cairo for Yasser Arafat


Funeral services will be held in Cairo for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Following the services the body of the former leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization and chairman of the Palestinian Authority will then be flown to Ramallah for burial. Thousands of military personnel and Egyptian police are providing security for the funeral, which has been closed to the public.

Security in Cairo is extremely tight, with dignitaries from around the world here to attend funeral services for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Egyptian police and military personnel line many of Cairo's streets.

The funeral will be off limits to the public and will last only 25 minutes. A senior Egyptian government official said there are concerns that an outpouring of emotion might lead to violence in the streets.

Egypt's top Muslim cleric, the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar Mohmammed Sayed Tantawi, will lead the services at a private compound for military officers. Afterward, Mr. Arafat's coffin will be transported by horse-drawn carriage to a military base just behind the private compound. The coffin will then be transported to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. A Jordanian helicopter will carry the coffin to Ramallah for burial.

Dignitaries from dozens of countries will attend Mr. Arafat's funeral in the Egyptian capital, including special U.S. envoy William Burns.

Funeral services were planned for Cairo primarily for security reasons and because Mr. Arafat was born in Cairo, went to school in the Egyptian capital and began his political activism here. His flag-draped casket was transported to Cairo from Paris late Thursday night. Egypt's first lady, Suzanne Mubarak, greeted Mr. Arafat's widow, Suha, at the airport, along with other Egyptian dignitaries.

A military honor guard carried the coffin from the plane to a nearby hearse, which transported it to a hospital on the grounds of the private compound. Friday morning, the coffin was taken to the club's mosque, where funeral services are to be conducted.