Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province, was murdered by a member of his security guard. An outspoken critic of religious intolerance, Taseer had openly ignored Pakistan's strict laws against alleged blasphemy. His death was the second blow in one week for the governing Pakistan Peoples Party which earlier had lost the support of its main coalition partner.

In Egypt, 21 Coptic Christians were killed in a car bomb attack on their church in Alexandria. The government and Muslim leaders expressed solidarity with the Copts but some observers linked the Alexandria event to similar attacks on Christians in Iraq.

The US Congress reassembled with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and a reduced Democrat majority in the Senate. The House Republicans immediately made it clear that they intended to try to repeal sections of the Health Care reform Bill passed by Congress in 2010.

In Brazil Dilma Rousseff took the oath of office as President in succession to Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva whose reforming policies were reflected in her list of priorities with special emphasis on the role of women in society.

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