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Religious Leaders Urge Dialogue After Pope's Comments Anger Muslims


Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders called Tuesday for renewed inter-religious dialogue. The call came one week after Pope Benedict's comments about Islam, which led to violence and anger in the Muslim world. Sabina Castelfranco has this VOA report from Rome.

Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders meeting in Rome called for dialogue among the three great religions in the wake of an outburst of Muslim anger at the Pope's speech in Germany last week.

The meeting of religious leaders was held at Rome's city council and was organized by the mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, to present a new magazine.

Among those attending the meeting were Cardinal Paul Poupard of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue; Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni; and the imam of a Rome mosque, Sami Salem. Cardinal Poupard said it's important that the meeting was held at the town hall because "it is the home of everyone, and it shows that everyone is committed." He said dialogue is the alternative to terrorism and violence.

One of the Muslim representatives at the meeting, the secretary general of the Islamic Culture Center of Italy, Abdellah Redouane, sought to downplay the crisis over the pope's remarks. He said Italy's Muslim community has accepted the pope's apology and considered the matter closed. Redouane said there are no alternatives, "either we clash or we have a dialogue, and we have opted for dialogue."

Anger across the Muslim world erupted last week after Benedict, in a speech to academics in Germany quoted the words of a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman."

On Sunday, Pope Benedict said he was "deeply sorry" that Muslims took offense at his words and stressed that the emperor's words did not reflect his own opinion.

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