Pope: with Muslims, Francis did not disappoint. After Ramadan a greeting “O’scia” [local dialect greeting] in Lampedusa

July 8, 2013

“It’s a historic gesture,” “beautiful words”: the Islamic Italian community welcomes with enthusiasm and gratitude the words of the Pope, who, now in Lampedusa has addressed Muslims: “to the dear Muslim immigrants who are tonight beginning the fast of Ramadan, the pope also wished them “O’scia” an affectionate greeting in the local Lampedusan dialect which means “my breath.”

“The Pope confirmed expectations that have sustained Muslims and immigrants about openness to dialogue and the promotion of tolerance” says Sherif El Sebaie, Egyptian intellectual and member of the Islamic Community in Turin “this is what we expected with from the new pontificate, and the Pope did not disappoint.”

The president of UCOII (Union of Islamic Italian Communities), Ezzildin Elzir explained “the beautiful words of the pope have meaning and are very important.”

Elzir emphasized “an interfaith dialogue which for previous decades has continued with the Catholic Church” and he also recalls how Pope John Paul II called for “our Christian brethren to dedicate a day of sharing with Muslims, October 27.” “This, I think, is the reality of the Muslim and Christian world: our dialogue, which will continue while we share our spirituality” the leader of UCOII added “Francis’s message is very important at this historical moment, in which the southern shores of the Mediterranean are experiencing very difficult times: people of good will can see this is a very important part in the world, more than 1 and a half billion Christians, have a hand open to dialogue and discussion. I believe that in this way we can overcome the extremists of this or that part.”

Speaking of “historical gestures” the president of the Community of the Arab world in Italy (Comai), Foad Aodi, expressed, on behalf of the whole community “gratitude” for the choice of the Pope to go to Lampedusa. He explained Francis’s gesture “is unique, important and tangible to remember all those invisible dead fallen in the sea of ​​Sicily” and “to remind politicians to field constructive solutions and human resources to help immigrants in distress — for the poor and refugees.” And it was “very significant” to visit  “Lampedusa one day before the start of Ramadan, the holy month in Islam and also for immigrants, refugees and Muslim prisoners who are about to fast even though they are in very difficult conditions.”

The president of the Islamic center in Viale Jenner in Milan, Abdel Hamid Shaari, also appreciated the gesture, “it is a good thing that the Pope will travel to Lampedusa to meet those poor people who pay a high price to get to Italy.” “We thank you and say” he added “that we are open to any dialogue and inter-religious meetings.”