TEHRAN (AFP) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has written a letter to Pope Benedict XVI thanking him for condemning an American pastor’s threat to burn the Koran on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
“I thank you for your stance in condemning the unwise act of a church in Florida, America, in insulting the word of God which hurt the hearts of millions of Muslims,” Ahmadinejad said in the letter which was posted on the website of his office.
Ahmadinejad told the pontiff that there was a “need for a close cooperation of divine religions to restrict destructive moves such as ignoring of religious teachings, influencing people to be materialistic which were eroding human societies, especially families and the young generation.”
The letter was delivered on Wednesday to the pontiff himself by the Iranian Vice President in charge of parliamentary affairs Mohammad Reza Mirtajodini.
The pope last month denounced pastor Terry Jones’ threat to burn the Muslim holy book.
“I pray for the victims and I ask respect for religious freedom and that the logic of reconciliation and peace prevail over hatred and violence,” the pontiff said at the Vatican.
Jones cancelled the plan to burn Korans after enormous pressure from world leaders including US President Barack Obama. But the mere threat to burn the Muslim holy book sparked riots and protests around the world.
On the eve of the planned destruction of the Korans, Ahmadinejad had said the plan was part of a “Zionist plot” that would end up in the speedy “annihilation” of Israel.