Lin Noueihed and Crispian Balmer – April 28, 2017
Pope Francis arrived in Cairo on Friday hoping to mend ties with Muslim leaders, just as Egypt’s ancient Christian community faces unprecedented pressure from Islamic State militants who have threatened to wipe it out.
In an address to the Egyptian people this week, Francis said he hoped his visit would help bring peace and encourage dialog and reconciliation with the Islamic world.
But it comes at a painful time for Egypt’s Copts, the Middle East’s largest Christian community, three weeks after Islamic State suicide bombers killed 45 people in twin church bombings.
Those attacks followed a cathedral bombing that killed 28 people in December and a spree of murders that has forced hundreds of Christians to flee North Sinai, where the group is most active.
“Pope of Peace in Egypt of Peace,” read posters plastered along the road leading from the airport to central Cairo, showing a smiling pope, his hand raised above the Christian cross and the Crescent moon of Islam.