WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Leaders of Southern California's Muslim community will meet this week with Cardinal Roger Mahony to avert inter-religious tensions.
The meeting will be held in Los Angeles and the Muslim leaders will express their concerns about Pope Benedict XVI's comments in Germany last week, the Press Enterprise newspaper in southern California reported Wednesday. The paper said the meeting would also seek to reinforce the Catholic-Muslim interfaith relationship in America's most populous state.
Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, told the Press Enterprise that local Muslim leaders would also urge the cardinal to try and get Catholic prelates in sotuhern California to hold more interfaith discussions. The newspaper descriebd the Shura Council as "an association of more than 70 mosques in Southern California."
A spokesman for Cardinal Mahony told the paper that he confirmed the cardinal would meet privately with the with the Muslim leaders.
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Southern California chapter, told the newspaper that relations between Muslims and Catholics in the Uited States remained very good. "The point is to reinforce our friendship, that we oppose any language or action that tends to shake that friendship and alliance," he said.
"Someone has to take a step back and diffuse the tension," Ayloush said. "W cannot afford to be pulled away from dialogue and mutual understanding. The other option is mistrust, hatred and immoral acts of violence."