An American was killed for taking pictures during protests that are sweeping Egypt and threatening to boil over ahead of President Mohammad Morsi's one-year election anniversary. Andrew Pochter was a 21-year-old college student visiting Egypt for an internship to teach seven and eight-year-olds how to speak English for the nonprofit group Amideast.
According to The New York Times and Al Jazeera, officials said Pochter was stabbed by a protestor while taking pictures of the clashes near Alexandria's Muslim Brotherhood headquarters, which had just been set on fire. He was going to return to Gambier, Ohio for his junior year at Kenyon College at the end of the summer. Tens of thousands of protestors clashed Friday in Alexandria as tensions are climbing ahead a mass demonstration planned for Sunday protesting Morsi's first full year in office. Opposition and pro-Morsi protestors turned violent in the first major unrest before the weekend's big opposition protest. Hundreds were injured and eight killed, including an Egyptian journalist, during Friday's clashes, and the violence is expected to continue over the weekend.
Pochter's family posted this moving statement to a Facebook page set up in his memory:
"Our beloved 21 year old son and brother Andrew Driscoll Pochter went to Alexandria for the summer, to teach English to 7 and 8 year old Egyptian children and to improve his Arabic. He was looking forward to returning to Kenyon College for his junior year and to spending his spring semester in Jordan. As we understand it, he was witnessing the protest as a bystander and was stabbed by a protester. He went to Egypt because he cared profoundly about the Middle East, and he planned to live and work there in the pursuit of peace and understanding. Andrew was a wonderful young man looking for new experiences in the world and finding ways to share his talents while he learned. Andrew cared deeply about his family and his friends. We won't have any further comment and ask for privacy now at this difficult time for the family."
The President responded to Pochter's death and the growing instability in Egypt during his tour of Africa on Satruday, ahead of his visit with Nelson Mandela's family. Obama said he was "looking at the situation with concern" and urged the country to denounce violence and participate in constructive conversation. "We'd like to see the opposition and President Mursi engage in a more constructive conversation about how they move their country forward because nobody is benefiting from the current stalemate,'" he said. The State Department also pulled non-essential employees out of their outposts and issued a travel advisory for the region.