Top Sunni institution freezes dialogue with Vatican

CAIRO— The premier institute of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world, Egypt's Al-Azhar, said Thursday it is freezing its inter-religious dialogue with the Vatican because of Pope Benedict XVI's recent remarks about the need for Christians to be protected in Egypt.
Al-Azhar said in statement its decision was made during an emergency meeting Thursday and the freeze is "indefinite." Pope Benedict XVI called on the Egyptian government to protect Christians following the New Year's bombing on a Coptic church in Alexandria that killed 21 people.
Egypt's government and the head of Al-Azhar, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib, blasted those remarks at the time, and accused the pope of interfering in Egypt's internal affairs.