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Pope Francis urges end to funding of violent groups

Pope Francis

Cairo, April 29 (UiTV/IANS) - Pope Francis on Friday called for a stop to the financing of groups that promote violence and urged religious leaders to uphold the sanctity of human life.

Religious leaders must denounce violations of human rights and "unmask" attempts to justify violence and hatred in the name of God, he told an international peace conference at the Al Azhar mosque here, according to Vatican Radio.

The Pope said that it was "essential" to "block the flow of money and weapons" bound for those who promote violence "which purports to be carried out in the name of the sacred," Vatican Radio reported.

"Let us affirm the incompatibility of violence and faith, belief and hatred", upholding instead "the sacredness of every human life," he said.

Echoing remarks made by Al Azhar Grand Imam Ahmad al-Tayeb, Francis called for an end to the arms trade, saying that if weapons are produced and sold, "soon or later they will be used".

Only by bringing to light "the murky manoeuvrings that feed the cancer of war can its real causes be prevented", he said.

The Pope's trip, which has drawn high security, comes three weeks after bombings at two Coptic churches killed 47 people on April 9.

The Islamic State jihadist group said it was behind the Palm Sunday bombings, as well as a bombing which killed 28 people at Egypt's main cathedral before Christmas.

Shaik Ahmed el-Tayed, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University and Pope Francis at International Peace conference



The group's Egyptian branch says Christians are its "favourite prey" and has vowed to carry out further attacks against the religious minority in Egypt.

The two-day visit by Francis is aimed at improving Christian-Muslim dialogue and reaching out to Egypt's Christian minority.

Al Azhar mosque , Cairo


Before his two-day visit - the first papal trip to Cairo since John Paul II in 2000 - Francis said he was travelling as a "messenger of peace" and urged Catholics to pray for him.