Security should not be compromised for the sake of a pope's pride

EGYPT s government has complained after staff at Heathrow Airport insisted the leader of the Egyptian Coptic Church went through a metal detector. He had come to the UK to visit The Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of St George in Stevenage. The Egyptian foreign

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

He had come to the UK to visit The Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of St George in Stevenage.

The Egyptian foreign ministry branded the treatment of 84-year-old Pope Shenouda III as "unacceptable", claiming he was also ordered to undergo a body search, but staff relented when the cleric objected.

Apparently this was the first time the 84-year-old pope had been subjected to a search and the Egyptian people were extremely offended by the incident. Dominic Asquith, the British ambassador in Cairo, said he would be asking for a meeting with the pope to apologise.


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I, for one, am concerned security measures were relaxed and the requested body search was not carried out. It should be one rule for all and no one should think themselves above such procedures.

If an exception was made for the pope, then surely all religious leaders would presumably be entitled to assume they could bypass security. Abu Hamza al-Masri is a Sunni Muslim leader and is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred.

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I'm not for a minute suggesting a body search of Pope Shenouda III would have revealed something sinister, but security threats can come in many different guises. For instance, head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, has said Al-Qa'ida is "grooming" children and young people to carry out terror attacks in Britain. He has also said terror plots are being directed from a widening range of countries.

If not everyone is subjected to security checks, who makes the decision as to who is and who isn't? When personal judgment starts to play a part in the administration of processes put in place to protect a nation, we are asking for trouble. One wrong decision could have catastrophic consequences.

I would rather one pope's pride was dented if it meant security was never compromised.

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