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April 5, 2013 at 10:11 PM   |   Comments

Protesters support Egyptian school's imam

LUXOR, Egypt, April 5 (UPI) -- Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Luxor, Egypt, Friday to voice support for the grand imam of Al-Azhar University.

The protesters claim the Muslim Brotherhood wants to push Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb out so it can control the school, a leading center of Islamic learning, Ahram Online reported.

Al-Masry al-Youm reported the crowds in Luxor swelled near 10,000 people after Friday prayers and hundreds of others rallied in Cairo as well.

Protesters hoisted signs warning "Al-Azhar is a red line" and chanted against the Muslim Brotherhood, shouting "Blood and soul, we sacrifice for you, Tayeb," and "Oh Imam, we are with you against the Brothers," al-Masry al-Youm reported.

Calls for the grand imam's removal came after an outbreak of food poisoning at the university Monday sickened more than 500 students. The university's president has been fired and the head of the dormitory where the food poisoning occurred was taken into custody.

The Press Trust of India reported Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawky Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam warned Thursday against those who would try to pull Al-Azhar University into the country's political fray

"We call on all Egyptians to refrain from dragging Al-Azhar into political matters and grievances because this is the only way in which the moderate version of Islam and our institution's independence will persist," Allam said.

He said such behavior, including attempts to oust el-Tayeb, "undermines Egypt's security."


Missing boys, parents may be on sailboat

TAMPA, Fla., April 5 (UPI) -- Authorities in Florida said Friday they've learned a couple on the run with their two young sons may be on a sailboat.

Joshua Hakken, 35, and Sharyn Patricia Hakken, 34, are believed to be traveling with their sons Cole, 4, and Chase, 2, who are the subject of an Amber Alert search, the Orlando TV station Central Florida News 13 reported.

Authorities say Joshua Hakken, facing the loss of custody of the boys, took them from his mother-in-law's home in Tampa Wednesday afternoon after tying her up.

Hills. Co. Sheriff's Office Detective Larry McKinnon said investigators believe Hakken, his wife and his sons are on the 25-foot sailboat he purchased recently.

"They were seen going underneath the John's Pass Bridge and, of course, we all know that leads out into the Gulf of Mexico," McKinnon said.

"They could've gone anywhere. Obviously, north or south along the coast of Florida. There's many inlets all the way up to the Panhandle and south down to Naples. So, we're not only looking along coastline, we'll be looking for any type of intercoastal waterways or inlets they may have been able to get into."

McKinnon reiterated that authorities consider the parents "armed and dangerous."

He also said it's possible the family returned to shore and is traveling by land again.


Ohio family found safe in Everglades

MIAMI, April 5 (UPI) -- An Ohio family reported missing in Florida's Everglades was found safe Friday, authorities said.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials said the Medina County family -- Scott Schreck, 44, Carie, 42, and sons Drew, 9, Luke, 7, and Zane, who is between 3 and 4 -- were unharmed when rescuers reached them, WFOR-TV, Miami, reported.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said the extensive search for the Schrecks started when the family failed to return from an airboat excursion Thursday afternoon, the TV station said.

The search involved helicopters, airplanes and at least a half-dozen airboats, as rescuers covered 1,000 square miles of territory.


Obama apologizes to California AG Harris

WASHINGTON, April 5 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama has apologized to California Attorney General Kamala Harris for creating a "distraction" by remarking publicly on her looks.

Speaking Thursday at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Atherton, Calif., the president was acknowledging several people in the room when he singled out Harris as "brilliant ... dedicated and ... tough, and she is exactly what you'd want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake."

"She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country," he said to laughter. "And she is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years."

Some commentators called Obama's remark sexist, and said it is indicative of a double standard under which women's professional success depends on cosmetic attractiveness.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Friday the president called Harris when he returned to Washington Thursday night "to apologize for the distraction created by his comments."

Carney said Obama told Harris he "did not want in any way to diminish the attorney general's professional accomplishments and her capabilities."

"And he believes and fully recognizes that the challenges women -- or he fully recognizes the challenge women continue to face in the workplace and that they should not be judged based on appearance."

Carney declined to speculate on whether the president thinks the remark was sexist.

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