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US Warns of Threat to Female Missionaries in Egypt

Map of Egypt
Map of Egypt
The U.S. embassy in Cairo has issued a warning to U.S. women Christian missionaries of the dangers of terror attacks they face in the mostly Muslim Egypt.

In a statement on its website, the embassy says it has credible information suggesting terrorist interest in targeting U.S. female missionaries.

It asks U.S. citizens to exercise vigilance and take necessary precautions to maintain their personal security. It also urges them to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, which makes it easier for the U.S. diplomatic personnel to contact them in case of emergency.

Christians comprise 10 percent of Egypt's population of 83 million. They regularly complain of discrimination and marginalization in the mostly Muslim country. Right groups say Christians have also been the target of sectarian violence.

Meanwhile, the head of a House panel that oversees foreign aid said Friday she would move to block the distribution of $450 million of U.S. assistance to the new government of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Texas Republican Kay Granger said in a statement that the U.S.-Egypt relationship "has never been under more scrutiny, and rightly so." Granger said she is not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance and cannot support it at this time.

The U.S. embassy in Cairo was damaged in recent protests against a U.S.-made movie ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the future of bilateral relations will depend on Cairo's response to the incident. He said Egypt's new government is trying to find its way and can be considered neither an enemy nor a friend.
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