Egypt recalls ambassador to Vatican

Ancient Coptic church, Mouquatan mountain, Egypt

Ancient Coptic church, Mouquatan mountain, Egypt

Egypt has recalled its ambassador to the Vatican after Pope Benedict XVI  appealed to Egypt and Iraq to do more to protect their Christian minorities, in his address to ambassadors on Monday.

A bomb attack on a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria on New Year's Eve killed 23 people. In Iraq there have been dozens of attacks on Christian homes and churches. In his address on Monday, the Pope condemned anti-Christian attacks in Egypt and Iraq, saying they showed "the urgent need for governments of the region to adopt... effective measures for the protection of religious minorities".

The Holy Father also called on Pakistan to repeal its blasphemy laws, which can carry a death sentence for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.  

In a  statement, foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said:  "Egypt asked its ambassador in the Vatican to come to Cairo for consultation after the Vatican's new statements that touch on Egyptian affairs, and which Egypt considers an unacceptable interference in its internal affairs."