Egypt's Mubarak vows to protect Christians after al-Qaeda threat
Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak promised to protect Coptic Christians in the country after al-Qaeda renewed threats against them, state-run media said Sunday, DPA reported.
Mubarak condemned "any terrorist plots targeting the Copts of Egypt" and told their pope, Shenouda III, that he rejected accusations against Cairo made by an al-Qaeda affiliated group, The Islamic State of Iraq, al-Ahram reported.
Last week, the group made threats against Christians, and called for the "release" of two Egyptian women, which it said had converted to Islam and were now being forcibly held by the Coptic church.
The militant group issued a warning to Christians when they claimed responsibility for a hostage-taking at a Baghdad church last Sunday, which left at least 52 people dead.
The two women, Camilia Shehata and Wafa Constantine, are the wives of Egyptian priests. Confusion over their disappearance and return days later has led to protests by some of Egypt's minority Christian population, who claimed they had been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam.
For its part, Egypt intensified security around Christian religious institutions in the wake of the Iraq church attack.