Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - A "historic and strong" moment, for which "we are grateful." These the words of the Imam of the largest mosque in Kirkuk Hami Ahmad Amin, in his reflections yesterday on the occasion of the Muslim Friday prayer, recalling the recent visit of the Papal envoy. On December 16, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop in Iraq, Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, and Archbishop Louis Sako met the highest Sunni and Shiite Muslim personalities of the city, along with many faithful. The Vatican cardinal was also received by Najm Alddin Karim, the governor of Kirkuk, a northern city - rich in oil and natural gas - in the center of a bitter dispute between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.
In his speech yesterday, the Islamic leader said that the visit was a "historic and strong moment," which "expresses the respect of Christians for Muslims." The imam of the mosque then spoke, as an example, of a visit that dates back to the time of Muhammad. "This meeting - said Ahmad Amin Hami - is comparable to the visit of the Christians of Ethiopia to the Prophet Muhammad during his stay in Medina at the beginning of Islam."
For the highest representative of the mosque in Kirkuk, Cardinal Sandri brought - in the context of a broader pastoral and diplomatic mission in Iraq - to "all Iraqis, on behalf of Pope [Benedict XVI] a message of peace," encouraging different communities "to dialogue to resolve the problems."
Lastly, Ahmad Amin Hami echoed "the appeal" by the cardinal to "Muslims and Christians," inviting them to be "peacemakers". "We must continually learn to build peace - said the Islamic leader - especially in this difficult time, full of tension."