German Muslim leaders met with Pope Benedict XVI today during the second day of his papal visit to Germany. Among the 15 Muslim leaders present were the head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, as well as members of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB). Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the similarities between values held by Christians and Muslims during the meeting and said they should work together to build a better world. 'We can offer an important witness in many key areas of life in society,' the pope told a gathering of Muslim representatives from various German Islamic associations and charities. 'I am thinking, for example, of the protection of the family based on marriage, respect for life in every phase of its natural course or the promotion of greater social justice.' 'We believers have a special contribution to make towards building a better world, while acknowledging that if our actions are to be effective, we need to grow in dialogue and mutual esteem,' the pope continued. Germany is home to about 3.8 to 4.3 million Muslims, of who two-thirds have Turkish roots and 45 per cent are German citizens. Benedict's last visit to Germany, five years ago, strained Catholic-Islamic relations. In a 12 September 2006 lecture, Benedict argued that God never demands what is unreasonable, and quoted an unfavourable remark about Islam by a 14th-century Byzantine emperor. In Muslim nations, violent protesters wrecked churches and injured Christians in response. Friday's meeting seemed to have gone some way in continuing the healing process of those wounds, with the pope's words welcomed by the Muslim leaders present. Benedict had clearly placed a significant value on a Muslim-Christian dialogue, which was an "important and beneficial" sign, said Mazyek, and something that Muslim leaders saw as a "great opportunity." "We have to make clear with a united voice that a boundlessness and anything-goes ideology is against human nature, against ecological and economic reason," he said.
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