The Coptic Christian pope has canceled a meeting with the US vice president in Cairo, in protest against America’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Palestinian leader Abbas also snubbed Mike Pence.
In a statement released on Saturday, the Coptic Church said it “excused itself from hosting Mike Pence” when he visits Egypt, citing US President Donald Trump’s decision made “at an unsuitable time and without consideration for the feelings of millions of people.”
Egypt’s Coptic Church said it would pray for “wisdom and to address all issues that impact peace for the people of the Middle East.”
The decision comes a day after Egypt’s top Muslim cleric Ahmed al-Tayeb also refused to meet Pence.
Egyptian Coptic Christians, the largest religious minority in the region, make up about 10 percent of the country’s 93 million people.
Solidarity from non-Muslim Arabs
The Coptic Pope’s refusal to host Pence is largely symbolic but significant, because it demonstrates the Arab solidarity for Palestinians irrespective of religious affiliations.
Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem has not only been criticized by Muslim countries; Germany, China and Russia are among scores of nations that have slammed the US president over the policy U-turn.
The status of Jerusalem was a key stumbling block during previous peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, in particular the question of how to divide sovereignty and oversee holy sites.