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Egypt-based students return to Singapore following unrest and violence

Mr Muhammad Amin Samsudin at Changi Airport on Aug 21, 2013. Egypt-based Singaporean students reunited with their families shortly after arrival at Changi Airport on Wednesday morning. --ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN 
Mr Muhammad Amin Samsudin at Changi Airport on Aug 21, 2013. Egypt-based Singaporean students reunited with their families shortly after arrival at Changi Airport on Wednesday morning. --ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN 
Ms Nur Hidayah Mohd Ismail (centre) with her mother Jemilal Hassan (left) and father Mohd Ismail Abu Samah at Changi Airport on Aug 21, 2013. Ms Nur Hidayah is among the Singaporean students studying in Egypt who arrived in Singapore on Wednesday mor
Ms Nur Hidayah Mohd Ismail (centre) with her mother Jemilal Hassan (left) and father Mohd Ismail Abu Samah at Changi Airport on Aug 21, 2013. Ms Nur Hidayah is among the Singaporean students studying in Egypt who arrived in Singapore on Wednesday morning, having evacuated the country following unrest and mass demonstrations that have seen hundreds of protesters killed. --ST  PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN 
Ms Sakinah Mohamed Noordean hugs her mother, Madam Latifa Buang, at Changi Airport this morning.Over 20 Singaporean students from Egypt arrived in Singapore on Aug 21, 2013, having evacuated the country following unrest and mass demonstrations that h
Ms Sakinah Mohamed Noordean hugs her mother, Madam Latifa Buang, at Changi Airport this morning.Over 20 Singaporean students from Egypt arrived in Singapore on Aug 21, 2013, having evacuated the country following unrest and mass demonstrations that have seen hundreds of protesters killed. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN
Egypt-based Singaporean students reunited with their families shortly after arrival at Changi Airport on Aug 21, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN 
Egypt-based Singaporean students reunited with their families shortly after arrival at Changi Airport on Aug 21, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN 
Mr Firdaus Azhari (left) was welcomed by a group of friends at Changi Airport this morning. Singaporean students studying in Egypt arrived in Singapore on Wednesday morning, having evacuated the country following unrest and mass demonstrations that h
Mr Firdaus Azhari (left) was welcomed by a group of friends at Changi Airport this morning. Singaporean students studying in Egypt arrived in Singapore on Wednesday morning, having evacuated the country following unrest and mass demonstrations that have seen hundreds of protesters killed. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN 
Ms Nur Hidayah Mohd Ismail (in black) hugs her mother, Madam Jemilal Hassan, at Changi Airport on Aug 21, 2013. Over 20 Egypt-based Singaporean students reunited with their families shortly after arrival on Wednesday morning. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJ
Ms Nur Hidayah Mohd Ismail (in black) hugs her mother, Madam Jemilal Hassan, at Changi Airport on Aug 21, 2013. Over 20 Egypt-based Singaporean students reunited with their families shortly after arrival on Wednesday morning. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN

There were plenty of smiles, hugs and laughter at Changi Airport early on Wednesday morning when some 23 Egypt-based Singaporean students reunited with their families shortly after arrival.

The students are mostly undergraduates of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, with a few also studying at Mahaad Buuth, a feeder madrasah to the university. They touched down in Singapore at about 5.45am.

The students were encouraged to return to Singapore by the Singaporean Students Welfare Assembly in Egypt (Perkemas), in consultation with the Singapore embassy there, said an Islamic Religious Council of Singapore spokesman.

They were the first batch of students to come back home following unrest and violence in Egypt's capital Cairo that escalated last week, with more expected to return in the later part of this week.

First-year student Nur Hidayah Mohd Ismail, 23, broke down in tears as she hugged her mother, housewife Madam Jemilal Hassan, 55.

The Islamic jurisprudence student said she was "relieved to be back".

"We were all okay and at a safe distance from the dangerous areas, but we couldn't predict what would happen next," said the first-year student.