(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/21/06) - Representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), along with other American Muslim leaders, met today with the Vatican's ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C., to discuss the controversy surrounding recent comments on Islam by Pope Benedict XVI.
CAIR Legislative Director Corey Saylor and Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar delivered a letter to Papal Nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi that outlined the Washington-based group's call for greater dialogue and outreach in response to the controversy.
The CAIR officials also discussed the American Muslim community's specific concerns over the Regensberg speech and subsequent developments.
CAIR's letter read in part:
"It is our belief that the proper response to this situation is for Muslims and Catholics worldwide to increase dialogue and outreach efforts aimed at building better relations between Christianity and Islam. We oppose any language or action that tends to shake the friendship and alliance between our faiths."
Archbishop Sambi cited a recently released statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). That statement notes that dialogue is urgent so that Christians and Muslims can together promote "peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity."
The two-hour meeting took place at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C. Attendees included the CAIR officials, representatives of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and an official from the Dar al-Hijra Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va. Also participating was a representative of the Most Reverend Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington.
CAIR has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org