Reuters is reporting that the ancient Cairo-based Sunni center of learning al-Azhar has broken off dialogue with the Vatican after Pope Benedict expressed objections to church massacres in Iraq and Egypt and “urged Christian communities to persevere in a non-violent manner in the face of what he described as ‘a strategy of violence that has Christians as a target.’”
Al-Azhar issued a statement with the following explanation: “[Al-Azhar’s] Islamic Research Council reviewed in an emergency meeting Thursday the repeatedly insulting remarks issued by the Vatican Pope toward Islam and his statement that Muslims are discriminating against others who live with them in the Middle East. . . . The council decided to freeze dialogue between al-Azhar and the Vatican for an indefinite period.”
— Nina Shea is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom.