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VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is brushing off security concerns to forge ahead with a two-day trip to Egypt aimed at presenting a united Christian-Muslim front that repudiates violence committed in God's name.
Three weeks after Islamic militants staged twin Palm Sunday church attacks, Francis lands in Cairo on Friday for a series of deeply symbolic encounters with Egypt's religious and political leadership. He will meet with Egypt's president, patriarch and the "other" pope, Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and pray for victims of the attacks.
Most importantly, he will also visit Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of learning in Sunni Islam. There, he will meet privately with grand imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, and participate in an international peace conference Friday afternoon.