L´Osservatore Romano Hails Bush´s Visit to Muslim Center

Religious in Afghanistan to Decide About bin Laden

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 18, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican semiofficial newspaper, L´Osservatore Romano, praised U.S. President George W. Bush´s visit to Washington´s Islamic Center on Monday.

A Page One article in the Sept. 19 Italian edition regards the visit as very wise, and quotes the presidential speech which exhibited solidarity and closeness to Muslims in America.

Bush asked the public to regard Arabs and Muslims living in the United States as American patriots, saying that intimidation and harassment of them “will not stand in America.”

While reiterating his determination to hunt down and punish those responsible for the terrorist attacks on New York and near Washington, D.C., Bush added: The “face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.”

Bush said the millions of Muslims who are American citizens make a valuable contribution to the country.

“The Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads, and they need to be treated with respect,” he said.

The U.S. president said he had heard that some Muslims were afraid to leave their homes.

“Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger, don´t represent the best of America,” he said. “They should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.”

L´Osservatore Romano also reported Yasser Arafat´s willingness to be part of the international coalition against terrorism, requested by Bush.

The newspaper also reported a delay of a meeting of Afghan ulema, or Muslim wise men, who will decide whether to extradite Osama bin Laden, a key suspect in the attacks, to the United States. The meeting has been delayed to Wednesday or Thursday.

The meeting, called by Mullah Mohammed Omar, leader of the Taliban, is expected to gather more than 1,000 Afghan religious leaders in Kabul.

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