Muslims donate money to repair West Bank, Gaza churches
ST. PETERSBURG – A group of Tampa Bay-area Muslims donated $5,000 to help repair churches on the West Bank and Gaza Strip damaged after a speech made by Pope Benedict XVI.
Members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations gave the check Thursday to the Rev. Robert Gibbons, vicar general of the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg.
“We have always said we deplore any violent act carried out in the name of Islam,” said Ahmed Bedier, a spokesman for the group. “Now we are putting our money where our mouth is.”
The check was made out to The Catholic Near East Welfare Association in Washington and was intended as seed money in a worldwide campaign to repair the churches in the Palestinian territories, Bedier said.
The attacks on the churches occurred after the pope made a speech quoting a 14th century emperor who said Islam was “evil and inhuman” and “spread by the sword.”