Acre, Israel, Aug. 23 – Israel’s President Shimon Peres made a special Ramadan visit to a major mosque in the north of the country on Tuesday (Aug. 23) and called on religious leaders of all faiths to denounce terrorism.
Peres visited the Al Jazaar mosque in Acre, a mixed Jewish-Arab city north of Haifa. He was welcomed by Imam Samir Assiwho has a history of working with religious leaders of other faiths, and who earlier this year, visited Acre's Chabad House to meet with one of the leaders of the ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Acre.
“Spiritual leaders have an important role in the promotion of peace and the condemnation of terror. Faith and religion reject terror. We must all unite in our struggle for freedom and peace,” Peres said.
"We have to unite our forces to put out fires, and we have to be emissaries who carry the message of peace," he said.
The president’s visit came after a difficult four days in Israel following a series of terrorist attacks which killed nine Israelis on Aug. 18. Over the weekend, Hamas and its allies in Gaza fired over 100 missiles and rockets at Israeli cities in the south.
The Al Jazaar Mosque, which was constructed more than two hundred years ago, is considered to be one of the most important in Israel.
Imam Assi told Peres that Acre is a city which demonstrates that harmonious co-existence is possible. He praised the friendship, cooperation and mutual tolerance between Arab and Jewish residents.
“In the name of Muslims, I would like to thank the honored President Peres for visiting this holy mosque,” Imam Assi said. “From here, I would like to utter a prayer together with you, who is known the world over for promoting peace, that peace will come to us and to the entire world.”
Peres, who turned 88 earlier this month, is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded for his role in reaching the Oslo Accords in 1993 between the Palestinians and Israel.
Throughout his career, Peres pushed for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Recent reports suggest that Peres has been in contact with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to try to encourage the leader to reenter peace talks with Israel.
He recently told a group of Washington-based ambassadors and senior diplomats visiting Israel on a mission organized by The Israel Project that saving the life of a child, anywhere, is the greatest goal of a public servant.