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Jews, Muslims cousins, says Israel envoy at Ajmer Sharif

In historic move to reach out to Muslims, and using India as a staging point, Israel’s ambassador Mark Sofer prayed at Ajmer Sharif on Thursday, the the first representative of the Jewish state to do so. Zia Haq reports.

india Updated: Sep 04, 2010 07:48 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times

In historic move to reach out to Muslims, and using India as a staging point, Israel’s ambassador Mark Sofer prayed at Ajmer Sharif on Thursday, the the first representative of the Jewish state to do so.

Sofer said the timing of his visit was “auspicious”, coinciding with the resumption of direct talks between Israel and Palestinians in Washington. He said Israel “respects Islam and loves Muslims”.

“The Israeli-Palestinian problem is not a religious but a political issue. Jews and Muslims are children of Abraham. We are cousins,” Sofer said.

In return for his visit, the hereditary caretakers of Ajmer Sharif will go to Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest place in Islam.

“Welcome to the real face of Islam,” senior hereditary khadim (caretaker), Syed Sarwar Chishty told Sofer, ushering him in.

Donning a skullcap, the diplomat replied: “We know bin Laden is not Islam.” After a guided tour, the top Israeli diplomat placed a chaddar at the shrine, and spent a few silent moments.

First Published: Sep 04, 2010 02:04 IST