YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, MARCH 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI received a special welcome from Muslim and Protestant leaders as he arrived at the international airport of Yaoundé-Nsimalen today.
The great imam of Yaoundé, Sheik Ibrahim Moussa, affirmed: “In the Koran, the prophet Mohammed recommends to welcome the foreigners, because very often they come with peace. Therefore, for us, the coming of the Pope is a blessing.”
At the beginning of his three-day stay in Cameroon, the Pope is receiving repeated welcomes from the leaders of the Muslim community, which forms the second largest religion after Christianity in this country of more than 18 million people.
Motivated by the Pope’s arrival, Sheik Moussa appealed to faithful Muslims to “respect the religion of others and to unite to welcome this great man.”
As reported by the local press, the Islamic leader said: “We consider the Pope as a great imam,” referring to the person in charge of presiding over the canonical Muslim prayer, who takes a place in front of the faithful so that they will follow his prayers and movements.
He added, “We pray that his stay goes well and that he returns to his home in peace.”
The imam stated: “We have a good opinion of him, above all we live peacefully with the Catholic faithful, in fact, we pray to one God. Thus, Muslims are as happy as they are to receive the Pope here in our country.”
The Protestant communities also have welcomed the Pope.
“The coming of the Holy Father to our country is a grace that cannot leave a Christian indifferent,” said the Reverend Jean Emile Ngue, general secretary of the Federation of Protestant Churches of Cameroon.
He affirmed that the Pope’s visit to the country is “an event of elevated spiritual scope.”[Isabelle Cousturié contributed to this report]