Pope visits Jordan mosque with “his shoes”

Pope Benedict visited a mosque on Saturday with his shoes in a move that is not suitable for a mosque visit since it is worn on streets that are not clean.

He visited the King Hussein bin Talal Mosque in Amman in such a manner, he took off his shoes during Sultanahmed mosque visit in Turkey.

Addressing the pope, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, reminded the pope of the hurt Muslims around the world felt in 2006.

Ghazi, a cousin of Jordanian King Abdullah, told the gathering the Muslim world appreciated the Vatican’s clarification and accepted that the pope was not expressing his own opinion at the time but making an “historical” citation.

Ghazi, a leading figure in the Common Word” group of Muslim scholars promoting dialogue with Christians, praised the pope for his “friendly” gestures and kindly actions towards Muslims since the 2006 speech prompted outrage.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the pope did not remove his shoes or pray while in the mosque, giving a reason for this move.

Lombardi said the pope did not remove his shoes as he was being shown around the mosque as his hosts “did not ask him to.” Sheikh Hamza Mansour, a leading Islamist scholar and politician, told Reuters the pope had “not sent any message to Muslims that expresses his respect for Islam or its religious symbols starting with the Prophet”.

Common Word spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the pope’s speech would not erase the Regensburg speech from popular memory in the Muslim world but noted with approval that Benedict stressed in his speech that Muslims and Christians worshipped the “same God”.

“That’s a long way from the Regensburg speech,” he said.

Benedict will stay in Jordan until Monday.