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Middle East Bishop makes appeal for reconcilliation to Iran President: CEN 10.19.07 p 9 October 16, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Iran.
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The former Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt. Rev. Riah Abu al-Assal has urged the president of Iran to work toward reconciliation between the Muslim world and the West.

Bishop Riah told The Church of England Newspaper he challenged Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a dinner honoring the Iranian president in New York last month “to open wide the doors of dialogue and to welcome a delegation of religious leaders” to Iran to pursue peace.

“The breaking of bread, especially during the month of Ramadan, must remind us not only of those without bread, but also the urgent need to break down barriers, pull down separation walls; and replace these with bridges of understanding on the way to healing, peace and reconciliation,” Bishop Riah told the Iranian president.

President Ahmadinejad told Bishop Riah he welcomed the overture from the Anglican Communion for dialogue between the West and Islam.

The Iranian president was in New York from Sept 24-26 to address the United Nations and to give a lecture at Columbia University. Plans for the Iranian president to visit the sight of the former World Trade Center towers and the 9/11 memorial were vetoed by the New York police commissioner and caused a brief flurry of outrage from politicians angered by the proposal.

During the “iftar” dinner at the Hilton Hotel in mid-town Manhattan, given by New York’s Iranian community for the president, Ahmadinejad spoke on a variety of topics.

He lambasted as historically inaccurate the movie the “300”, which recounted the Greek victory at Thermopylae over the Persians and then moved on to a discussion of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions saying, “Iranians have never tried to oppress anyone.”

In a television interview recorded upon his return to Tehran, President Ahmadinejad said Iran wanted to form “cordial relations” with the US, but that it first must get over 9/11.

The 9/11 attack on New York was a result ofthe inhuman management of the world” he said, according to a translation provided by the MEMRI. He did not want America to “turn this incident, in 20 years’ time, into another false idol like the Holocaust, which they would use as a pretext to kill people, and to prevent anybody from opening this [Pandora’s] box and examining what really happened in this incident.”

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