Pope Francis leads Cairo Mass as helicopter gunship and armed police keep watch

An Apache attack helicopter and scores of armed police have provided tight security for Pope Francis as he led a Mass in Egypt - just weeks after two churches were bombed by militants.

The 80-year-old pontiff used the service, held at the end of a two-day visit to Cairo, to warn against religious extremism and appeal for tolerance.

His trip comes three weeks after IS-linked militants killed at least 45 people in attacks on two churches as part of a campaign of terror against the country's large Coptic Christian community.

Despite the heavy security around the Air Defence Stadium, where Vatican officials said 15,000 Catholics had gathered, Francis shunned the use of an armoured car and instead opted for an ordinary Fiat with its window wound down as he travelled to the venue.

Once inside, he switched to a golf buggy.

Police used metal detectors to check vehicles for explosives and armed police were stationed around the venue - some with their faces covered.

Blessing Egypt as one of the earliest to embrace Christianity, the Pope told the crowd: "True faith leads us to protect the rights of others with the same zeal and enthusiasm with which we defend our own.

"The only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity. Any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him."

The Pope used his brief visit to the country to denounce religious violence and appeared to back President al-Sisi's campaign against Islamist militants.

He also defended human rights, which the Egypt president's regime has been accused of abusing.

In a speech on Friday, he said: "History does not forgive those who preach justice, but then practise injustice."

The Pope also criticised the rise of "demagogic forms of populism", in an apparent sideswipe at US President Donald Trump and right-wing nationalist parties in Europe.

The visit was the first by Francis to Cairo, but the second by a Catholic pope after John Paul II visited Egypt in 2000.

Egypt's Christians make up roughly 10% of the 92 million population, making them the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

Most are Coptic Orthodox, with around 250,000 Roman Catholics.

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