Local Islamic Community Reacts to New Pope
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Religious leaders in Rochester's Muslim community are putting their stamp of approval on the election of Pope Francis.
"The most two defining principles of both the Muslims and the Catholics are love God, love your neighbor," said Islamic Center of Rochester Board Chairman Mohammed Rumi.
"It's very, very important for our peaceful coexistence," said Rauf Bawany of Catholic-Muslim Alliance Member.
Their doctrine may be different, but their denominator is the same.
"As you know, the Muslims and the Catholics are the two largest denominations in the world," said Rumi.
That said, leaders of the Islamic Center of Rochester and members of the Catholic-Muslim Alliance were watching with the rest of the world who would be the next pope.
"Pope Benedict was a very affect pope also. Before he became pope, he made a few remarks which are not very friendly to the Muslims," said Rumi.
The group says the first Latin American pontiff not only seems more relatable, but open to other faiths.
"We can feel the warmth in his addresses towards the various denominations. We feel that they realize that there is a big community out there where we have to establish and promote a relationship," said Rumi.
"I see a lot of action in his background that give him a lot of credibility and promise to other people that he would stand up for the right causes," said Islamic Center Board President Mohammad Zafar.
The group says having a strong relationship with Catholics is crucial. It's something they've worked on at the local level through their alliance with the Rochester Diocese since 2003. Still it's an agreement they believe starts at the top.
"We hope and expect the relationship between this pope and the Muslim world will be more productive and we will be very happy about it," said Rumi.