Pope Francis will not travel in a bullet-proof vehicle when he travels to Egypt later this week, in spite of the risk to his life from Islamist extremists.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said: 'The Pope will use a closed car to move around, but not an armoured one,' according to the Daily Telegraph. 'That's how he wanted it.'
Francis will travel to Cairo on Friday at the invitation of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Catholic bishops, Coptic Pope Tawadros and the grand imam of Al-Azhar University, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb.
He met Sheikh al-Tayeb last year in the Vatican and has made improving Christian-Muslim relations a priority for his papacy.
Around 10 per cent of Egypt's population are Christian, though most are Orthodox Copts. They face various forms of discrimination and in many parts of the country live under the threat of violence. Islamic State attacked security forces near St Catherine's Monastery last week, killing one officer and wounding three others, and a twin suicide bombing on Palm Sunday killed many worshippers in two churches.
Despite the obvious security risks, Francis has refused the use of bullet-proof 'Popemobiles' on previous trips to areas threatened by criminal and terrorist violence. He believes they create a barrier between him and the people who turn out in their thousands to see him.