09/20/2006, 00.00
SYRIA – VATICAN
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Syria's Grand Mufti says Pope's explanation "more than enough"

by Jihad Issa

After meeting the Nuncio, the head of Sunni clerics called for respect for the personality of Benedict XVI and urged one and all to pursue the path of dialogue.

Damascus (AsiaNews) – "The clarifications supplied by the Pope are more than sufficient, although I would ask for, if possible, more explanation."  With these words, the Sunni Grand Mufti of the Arab republic of Syria, Ahmad Badr El Din El Hassoun summed up a meeting yesterday – Tuesday – with the Apostolic Nuncio of Syria, Mgr Giovanni Morandini. In a statement to AsiaNews, he added: "The disapproval of Pope Benedict XVI and his bitterness after the recent reactions are more than an 'apology' for us and a great sign of respect towards the Islamic world." El Hassoun called on "all to respect this great personality, Pope Benedict XVI."

The Grand Mufti also thanked the Apostolic Nuncio for bringing a message of brotherhood and peace and said the latest position of the Holy See – expressed by the Pope himself, by the Secretary of State, by the Vatican Press Office and by some religious leaders – should be viewed as an expression of the "good intentions reigning in the hearts of Christian brothers".

The Arab Group for Inter-faith Dialogue, in a statement released to the public also yesterday, upheld "the necessity of pursuing the path of dialogue, the only way capable of purifying hearts and of designing a project for the future of the region." The group asked differences in vision, which will not help Muslim-Christian coexistence in Syria, be dropped from debate, and thanked the government of Damascus for security measures taken "that avoided violence and hate."

In Syria, there was practically no aggressive and violent reaction at all to the address of the Pope, although the odd person sought to take advantage of the situation to boost his position in the country.

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