Rome’s chief rabbi paid a landmark visit to the capital’s mosque on Monday and called for greater dialogue between Jews and Muslims to promote peace.
Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni’s visit to the sprawling mosque on Rome’s outskirts, one of the largest in Europe, was the first by a chief rabbi of Rome since it opened in 1995.
“We must contribute to creating the conditions for peace,” he said in an address to Muslim leaders. “We have a duty to promote dialogue and this is what we are trying to do.”
The visit took place less than two weeks after Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders met at the Vatican and agreed that they should widen their dialogue to involve Muslims in the wake of tension over the publication of newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
Encouragement to Muslims
An Italian minister, who was later sacked, infuriated Muslims by wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the cartoons.
Di Segni encouraged Muslims, who have overtaken Jews as the second-largest religious group in Italy after Roman Catholics, to be become full members of the community.
“As Italian Jews who have been here for 20 centuries, we had a very long relationship with Italian authorities and we have managed to find solutions and models of co-existence,” he said.
“We think our experience can be very useful to you in this very difficult process of integration...”
Abdellah Redouane, head of the Islamic cultural institute based in the Mosque complex, said the cartoon controversy was an example of how Jews and Muslims could work together.
“I want to thank the Jewish community for the solidarity they showed towards Muslims when, recently, the Prophet Mohammad was ridiculed and insulted with offensive cartoons that were simply not funny,” Redouane said.