He planted a seed. Will the West water it?

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told UPI that the movement is expressing its feeling of solidarity and grief for losing the leader of Christians the world over.

“In this respect we recall the Pope’s statements that he always made, mainly when he called for giving the Palestinians their legitimate rights of freedom and independence,” said Abu Zuhri.

He said that Hamas movement as well as the Palestinian people “are calling on the Pope’s successor to keep the same position that opposes the occupation and its crimes against Moslems and Christians in Palestine.”

 Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami has sent an official message of condolence over the death of Pope John Paul II, praising the late pontiff as a seeker of “truth, justice and peace”.

“Pope John Paul II was a disciple of religious mysticism, philosophic deliberation and thought and artistic and poetic creativity,” Khatami wrote in a message to Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Sodano.

“By emphasising his experience and teachings, (he) earnestly tried to utilise them in the path of the triumph of truth, justice and peace,” said Khatami..

“It is hoped that the leadership of Catholic Christianity, by following the teachings of the Prophet Jesus, may peace be upon him, by interacting with justice seeking and peace loving political-religious leaders and by also following the ethical and humanitarian thinking of John Paul II, help the world towards a better and more just life,” Khatami said in the message, which was also carried by official media.

“He was a man of peace, and supportive of the Palestinian cause,” said Adnan Husseini, the director of the Islamic Trust, or Waqf, that oversees the Jerusalem holy site known as Temple Mount, or Haram as-Sharif. “His position regarding the Palestinian cause was good, and especially his position regarding Jerusalem and his opposition to building the wall around Jerusalem and in the Palestinian territories,” Husseini said.

“This man has always stood by the Palestinian people,” said Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia. “He always had positive and just positions toward the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Nafez Azzam, a top leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group, paid homage to John Paul as an “important leader for humanity,” who saw his role as “the head of a spear that fights oppression and aggression.”

The Dalai Lama, in a message of condolence issued by his office in exile in the Himalayan resort town of Dharmsala, north India, said “Pope John Paul II was a man I held in high regard. His experience in Poland, then a communist country, and my own difficulties with communists, gave us a common ground.” The pope, he added, “was very sympathetic to the Tibetan problem.”…

In Bosnia, the Muslim member of the multiethnic Bosnian presidency, Sulejman Tihic, lauded him as a man who was “one of the most important personalities of the 20th century and worked for peace and tolerance among different religions.”

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said the pope will be remembered “as a distinguished religious figure, who devoted his life to defending the values of peace, freedom and equality.” ..

Patriarch Alexy II, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, said John Paul “personally, and his works and ideas, have had a strong impact on the world. … We grieve over the loss that has befallen the Roman Catholic Church.”..

Israel’s former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a Holocaust survivor, met the Pope five times. In one, the pope told him that “In all my travels, I visited 120 countries, I see anti-Semitism and I emphasize our obligation, the obligation of all humanity, to ensure the continued existence and the future of our big brother, the Jewish nation,” Lau told Israel Radio.

Pakistan’s President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said he shared “this grief with the Christian brothers of Pakistan and the world,” the state news agency reported. He said the pope had “rendered incredible services for peace.”

The grand sheikh of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque, which the Pope visited in 2001, said his death was “a big loss for the Catholic Church and the Islamic world.” Grand Sheikh Mohamed Sayed al-Tantawi said he valued the Pope’s “moderate position supporting Arab issues in each of Palestine and Iraq.”

In Pakistan, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed of the Islamist Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal alliance said the world had lost a man of peace.

“(U.S. President) George Bush’s talk of a Crusader war was a clear negation of Pope John Paul’s efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and harmony,” he said.

The Arab League lowered the flag over its Cairo headquarters to half-mast.

In Kuala Lumpur, Azizan Razak, a cleric and senior leader of the opposition Parti Islam-se Malaysia, said: “We hope his successor will follow his footsteps to increase understanding between Muslims and Christians.”

In Bangladesh, home to nearly 140 million Muslims, Moulana Obaidul Haque of the Baitul Mokarram national mosque, said the world had lost a great religious leader. “We hope his successor will also work for world peace,” the cleric said.

“His Holiness dedicated his life to the emancipation of humanity, particularly the victims of conflict anddeprivation … I join you in prayers for the eternal peace of the departed holy soul,” Bangladesh President Iajuddin Ahmed said.

In the largely Catholic Philippines, one leader of an influential group of Islamic clerics said John Paul served as a “bridge of understanding” between Christians and Muslims.

“I was touched by his gesture to pardon a Muslim who tried to assassinate him,” said Sharif Julabbi of the Ulama League.

Calling John Paul, the “Pilgrim Pope,” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias says he had a  lot of time for him … “he was very human … I had a lot of warmth and affection for him … that’s life, he has fulfilled his task.”..Chavez Frias maintains, singling out the Pope’s condemnation of the invasion of Iraq as “immoral and illegal.”

Another was the teaching that the world’s media cannot appeal to unlimited freedom.

Opening his Alo President Sunday radio address this morning, President Chavez Frias has ordered a 5-day period of official mourning for the death of Pope John Paul … “we render tribute to his memory and hang up our harps and the voices of our singers for you.”

President A P J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has today condoled the death of Pope John Paul II.

Kalam said that the world has lost a statesman who worked for human dignity and freedom throughout his life.

“I am deeply saddened on the passing away of Pope John Paul II,” the President said in an initial message.  

“The world has lost a church leader and a statesman who throughout his life worked for human dignity and freedom and for the needy and oppressed. He tirelessly worked for peace on this planet and to establish an international order based on equality and justice”, he said…

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described Pope John Paul II as the ”People’s Pope who led the Catholic Church through a period of historic changes”.

In his condolence message, the Prime Minister said ”Pope John Paul II was an iconic figure for nearly three decades, in particular as a beacon of unflinching moral values”.

”The Pope endeared himself to the people of India by initiating the process of granting Sainthood to Mother Teresa,” he said, adding that he reached out beyond the Church and became an inspiration for many years to people of all faiths.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was joined by Muslim leaders and other religious officials in describing the 84-year-old pontiff’s death after prolonged illness as a great loss to the world.

Yudhoyono immediately sent a message of condolence to the Holy See, foreign ministry spokesman Yuri Thamrin said.

The “Indonesian nation and government feel a great loss and share a deep grief over the demise of Pope John Paul II,” the ministry said in a statement.

“His contribution and services would always be deeply remembered,” it said.

The chairman of Indonesia’s second largest Muslim organisation, the Muhammadiyah, praised the Pope’s work for global peace.

“He was a leader that fought for peace in the world, was against the war in Iraq and even wanted a free Palestine. He was an outstanding figure,” Ahmad Syafi’i Maarif said.

A deputy chairman of the hardline Muslim Indonesian Mujahedin Council, Irfan Suryahadi Awwas, said: “We hope that his successor will be able to make even more concrete achievements in overcoming the conflicts between religions or followers of religions.”

“We wish him good health, ” Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the highest-ranking Shiite Muslim religious authority in Lebanon, said after Friday Muslim prayers in south Beirut….

In Syria, the Greek Catholic Bishop of Damascus, Isidore Battikha, whose church recognizes the primacy of the pope, declared “we are proud of his holiness and what he has done.” He said Christians were saying prayers to God “to lessen his pain.”  

Syrian Muslim cleric Mohammed Habash praised the pope for his position promoting Christian-Muslim coexistence. “I share the appeals and prayers for the soul of Pope John Paul II, a humble man of dialogue, forgiveness and openness,” said Habash.

In overwhelmingly Muslim Yemen, Mohammed Ghalib Ahmed, a former diplomat and a member of the Socialist Party’s politburo, praised the pope as “an honorable man of peace” who supported the causes of troubled Arab nations.

“His stance against the Iraq war was exemplary,” Ahmed said. “It will be very difficult to replace him.”  

Junichiro Koizumi, the prime minister of largely Buddhist Japan, sent condolences to the Vatican and said hedeeply respected the Pope for his efforts to achieve world peace.

“By the way he endured daily physical suffering and soldiered on regardless,” Singapore’s prime minister, LeeHsien Loong, said in a letter to the Vatican, “he inspired Catholics and non-Catholics alike”.

Beop Jang, master of the Buddhist priest in the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, said, “He lived for human peace and love in his whole life. Although he has passed away, egotism and greed are still prevalent in the world.

“Under the guidance of the pope’s life, we have to try to solve the problem of human beings. May he come back to us again and shed light on human peace and happiness.”

Pope John Paul II kisses the Koran















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