Egypt’s Coptic Church said Saturday its leader, Pope Tawadros II, will not meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during the latter’s visit to Cairo this month, citing President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Coptic Church said in a statement that it has “excused itself from hosting Mike Pence” due to Washington’s move “at an unsuitable time and without consideration for the feelings of millions of people,” according to Times of Israel.

“The Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church declines to receive American Vice President Mike Pence,” it said, adding it would pray for “wisdom and to address all issues that impact peace for the people of the Middle East.” The Trump administration has voiced concerns over the ongoing persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt at the hands of Islamist terrorists and others. On Friday, Egypt’s top Muslim cleric Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Al-Azhar Islamic seminary, also declared he will not meet Pence. READ MORE