ABC-7 News: CIOGC/CAIR-Chicago on Pope’s Turkey Trip (TRANSCRIPT/VIDEO)

Cheryl Burton: ABC 7’s Leah Hope talked to the local Muslim leaders about his trip and she has reaction for us today, Leah.

Leah Hope: Cheryl and Ron this trip is seen as a step in the direction of reconciliation. There seems to be a willingness to forgive especially here in Chicago where leaders in both Muslim and Catholic communities have already forged a strong bond.

The visit originally designed to bridge an ancient gap between Roman Catholics and orthodox Christians has grown in significance. Pope Benedicts visit to Turkey is also seen as an attempt to repair relations between the Vatican and Muslims. Some protested the pope’s visit to Turkey. It was his first visit to a Muslim country since becoming pope and it comes two months after making an historic reference that linked Islam to violence. Locally and worldwide Muslims were concerned about the remarks reinforcing negative stereotypes some locally are hopeful more reconciliation will come from the pope’s trip to Turkey.

Janaan Hashim: I hope that the Catholics around the world will see his visit as a springboard toward embracing dialogue with Muslims and Muslims in Muslim countries

Hope: Janaan Hashim is a spokesperson for a federation of fifty Islamic organizations. She says ongoing relationships with local Catholics quickly address the pope’s comments.

Hashim: We join forces together to overcome this and to move on. We’re not holding this against the Archdiocese and our relationship was so strong that we felt very comfortable taking that position.

Ahmed Rehab: Open dialogue is always the way for people to see beyond the stereotypes and to understand what each is about.

Hope: Ahmed Rehab is the executive director of a local organization that advocates for civil rights of Muslim Americans. He says regular meetings with catholic and Muslim groups in Chicago intensified after the pope’s comments and continued to educate both faith communities.

Rehab: The world can learn from our experience here in Chicago whereby the first thing that we thought to do in the aftermath of the comments by the pope about Islam was to get together and increase our dialogue.

Hope: The Chicago archdiocese has had regular meetings with the council of Islamic relations of greater Chicago for the last nine years. An example of the ongoing relationship between faith communities one of Cardinal George’s first public appearances after major surgery earlier this year was to break the fast at the end of Ramadan with local Muslims last month. So that was really seen as significant because he had been so sick and they’re looking forward to this Turkey trip and apparently the pope is also going to visit an important mosque so they’re hoping to move forward and hope everyone else moves forward.

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