VOLATILE HOLY LAND HEIGHTENS SECURITY FOR PAPAL VISIT

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JERUSALEM: The upcoming pilgrimage to the Holy Land by Pope Francis, best known as the people’s pope, is likely to prove a major headache for local security forces tasked with his security. The pontiff’s first stop will be Jordan, where he arrives on Saturday. Early the following day, he leaves for the West Bank town of Bethlehem, then flies to Israel where he will stay until the evening of May 26. Exacerbating the challenges of securing the head of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in a region that is a hotbed of religious extremism is this pope’s constant desire to engage with followers, which has caused consternation among his security detail in the past. “This pope is a big problem for security,” said Father David Neuhaus, who represents Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel, recalling how, on his first day as pope, Francis broke away from his guards to mingle with people.

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AFP

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