January 31, 2011

CNS PHOTO | REMO CASILLI, REUTERS

A Coptic Orthodox woman takes part in a Jan. 9 protest in Rome against the Christmas attack on a church in Alexandria, Egypt.

Top Muslim academics in Egypt have announced they are suspending all dialogue with the Vatican to protest Pope Benedict's remarks about anti-Christian violence in Egypt.

The decision of Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, president of al-Azhar University in Cairo, and members of the Islamic Research Academy was reported Jan. 20 by the website Ahram Online.

However, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue retains a desire for dialogue with the group.

Ahram Online reported that the decision to suspend the dialogue was made unanimously in response to the pope's reference Jan. 1 "to the discrimination endured by Coptic Christians in Egypt" after a Dec. 31 bombing at a Coptic Orthodox church in Alexandria left 23 people dead.