Vatican discusses protection for Christians following Egypt sectarian violence

AFP, Tuesday 10 May 2011

Vatican discusses the state of Christian minorities in North Africa and the Middle East after sectarian attacks in Egypt

Coptic demonstrations following Imbaba attacks
Egyptian Coptic Christians chant angry slogans as they protest the recent attacks on Christians and churches, in front of the state television building in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, May 9, 2011.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini discussed how to defend Christian minorities on Tuesday following deadly sectarian attacks in Egypt.

The two discussed the Holy See's "concern" about unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

They focussed in particular "on violence against Christians and the possibility of acting for their protection," he added.

Twelve people were killed and 232 injured in the night between Saturday and Sunday in Imbaba, a neighbourhood of Cairo, in clashes between Christians and Muslims that also led to a church being set ablaze.

The Vatican has stayed silent on the attacks but often speaks out against anti-Christian violence in Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria or Pakistan.

Relations between Egypt and the Holy See are tense, Vatican sources said, with any criticism from Pope Benedict XVI often seized on by Islamist groups as an attack against Islam.

On April 12 the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayeb, renewed his call to the Vatican’s head, Pope Benedict XVI, to officially apologise for insulting Islam.


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