Turkish Islamic Union Chief's Address to Pope

“No One May Be Disparaged on Account of Religious Affiliation”

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COLOGNE, Germany, AUG. 21, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the greeting given by Ridvan Cakir, president of the Turkish Islamic Union of Germany, to Benedict XVI in a meeting between the Pope and Muslim leaders on Saturday.

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On behalf of the delegation, Your Holiness, I would like to welcome you, and to thank you for this opportunity to meet with you.

The goal of the Abrahamic religions is for all people to live together in friendship and forgiveness.

Today, memories of hostility and war are a source of pain for all of humankind. If we want to avoid going through such suffering all over again, we, the members of the Abrahamic religions — and Christians and Muslims in particular — have important obligations to fulfill.

In this age of communication, the notions of proximity and distance have lost some of their meaning. Today, people are all one another’s close neighbors. This makes it even more important for us to get to know one another better, and to make friends with one another. As it is written in the Holy Koran: “We … made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other.” The better people get to know one another and more they know about one another, the deeper their friendships can become.

Every religion, and every member of a religious community, has specific sensitivities, sensitivities we are obligated to respect.

According to the Holy Koran, no one may be disparaged on account of religious affiliation, or forced to relinquish his or her beliefs. The Koran says: “You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion.”

We are convinced that interreligious and intercultural dialogue is of tremendous significance for a peaceful world. If we can continue to coexist in dialogue, it will send a signal that the theory of a “clash of cultures” is baseless. The more religious and cultural communities can learn about one another, the more they will realize that there is no reason for hostility, and indeed many reasons for friendship and cordial coexistence. The Turkish experience provides a remarkable example of how different religions and cultures can live together in friendship. The process of Turkey’s accession to the EU is also an important occasion, one that should be judged in this context.

We wholeheartedly support the process of dialogue launched and pursued by the Vatican. May God enable us to continue to pursue this process.

We recognize that this process will contribute in important ways to friendship, to world peace and to humankind.

I would like to thank you once again for taking the time for this meeting. May God’s blessing be with you on your way.

Ridvan Cakir
President of the Turkish Islamic Union

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