10/27/2009, 00.00
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Riding a bicycle from Rome to Makkah, bringing a message from the Pope

Twenty-three cyclists make what one of them described as “probably the most important pilgrimage you can do; a pilgrimage of hope to build a bridge between the religions and cultures of Islam and Christianity.”
Jeddah (AsiaNews) – A group of 23 bikers (pictured) arrived in Jeddah on Sunday evening on their way from Rome to Makkah with a goodwill letter from the Pope for the Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, in what is “probably the most important pilgrimage you can do”, a “pilgrimage of hope to build a bridge between the religions and cultures of Islam and Christianity,” Leo Schmidt, the group’s unofficial leader, told Arab News.

The cyclists left Rome on 23 September and arrived in Jeddah Sunday evening, travelling through Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria and Jordan on their way to Saudi Arabia.

“We had no trouble at all with visas on the way, just a little dehydration with these high temperatures. But we are all fit—it was no problem,” Schmidt said.

In reporting the event, Arab News titled it “Bringing the message of hope from the pope” and related it to the recent efforts by Saudi King Abdullah to raise the profile of interfaith dialogue.

On Monday, the cyclists finished their “pilgrimage” to Makkah at a roadblock just outside the city since non-Muslims are not allowed inside Islam’s holy city.

Now they are making their way towards the “cooler” weather of Saudi Arabia’s southern highlands.

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