Page last updated at 07:16 GMT, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 08:16 UK

Egypt complains over pope search

Pope Shenouda III
Pope Shenouda III had never been subject to such a search before

Egypt's government has complained after staff at Heathrow Airport insisted the leader of the Egyptian Coptic Church went through a metal detector.

The Egyptian foreign ministry said the treatment of 84-year-old Pope Shenouda III, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, was "unacceptable".

It added that Pope Shenouda was ordered to undergo a body search, but staff backed down when the cleric objected.

The cleric is the spiritual leader of Egypt's 7.5m Coptic Christians

First time

In a statement, the foreign ministry said that it told Dominic Asquith, the British ambassador in Cairo, that the Egyptian people were extremely offended by the incident, which happened on 30 March.

Mr Asquith said he would ask for a meeting with the pope to apologise, the statement continued.

This was the first time Pope Shenouda had been subject to such a search, Egyptian media reported.

Pope Shenouda had been in the UK to open a new cathedral in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

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