DAMASCUS, Mar. 16, 01 (CWNews.com) - The leader of Syria's
Muslims said on Friday that there would be no prayers with
Pope John Paul II when the Catholic leader visits the
country in May.
Syrian Grand Mufti Sheikh Ahmed Kiftaro said there would be
no joint Muslim-Christian prayers during the visit,
speculation of which had caused some conservative Muslims
to protest. "Reports that a joint Christian-Muslim prayer
would be conducted at the Omayyad mosque are completely
untrue. No decision or a ruling has been passed by the
Mufti in this respect," said a statement from Kiftaro's
office. "He expressed astonishment at the circulation of
such inaccurate reports without his knowledge or approval."
"Co-existence between Muslims and Christians does not
require a joint prayer. It depends on a serious and
principled action to support the causes of the oppressed in
the world and to protect humanity from dangers surrounding
it," Kiftaro said.
Catholic Bishop Izdor Battikha had announced on Wednesday
that the Pope will visit Omayyad mosque, the first such
visit to a Muslim house of prayer by a pontiff, and deliver
a speech. He said the Holy Father would not pray in the
building but have "a quick silent glance at the tomb of
John the Baptist located inside the mosque." Muslims also
revere St. John as a prophet.