Egypt’s Sunni body freezes dialogue with Vatican

CAIRO — Egypt’s Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning, said on Thursday it was freezing its bi-annual meetings with the Vatican after remarks by Pope Benedict XVI that “attack” Islam.

By (AFP)

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Published: Thu 20 Jan 2011, 8:01 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 9:40 PM

“The freeze was prompted by the repeated attacks on Islam by Pope Benedict XVI of the Vatican. The Pope has reiterated that Muslims oppress non-Muslims who are living with them in the Middle East,” according to a statement from Al-Azhar carried by the official MENA news agency.

The decision came after an extraordinary meeting of Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Academy chaired by the body’s Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the statement said.

Al-Azhar and the Vatican hold bi-annual meetings to discuss mutual cooperation.

The pope had called for the protection of the Arab world’s Christian communities after a New Year’s attack on a church in the northern city of Alexandria that left 21 people dead.

He said the Alexandria attack was “yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt ... effective measures for the protection of religious minorities”.

The remarks prompted Cairo to recall its envoy to the Vatican.

On Wednesday, Arab leaders gathered for an economic summit in Sharm el-Sheikh voiced their “total rejection” of foreign interference in Arab affairs over the region’s Christian minorities.

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