In Argentina, the Muslim and Jewish communities celebrated together respectively the start of Ramadan, the holy month of Islam, and ‘Rosh Hashana’, the Jewish new year. The commemoration was held in Buenos Aires on the San Martín Square, headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cults of the Republic of Argentina.
According to the local press, the Secretary of Religion, Guillermo Oliveri, took the opportunity of the coincidence of the two festivities (regulated by the different calendars) to emphasise the consistency of inter-faith dialogue in the country. He stressed that such a positive atmosphere “needs care like a garden and this gathering is a small step forward for the difficult situations in the world where there is no peace”.
Among the interventions at the gathering, participated by leaders of both religious communities, were also those of the Sheikh of the Islamic Centre of the Republic of Argentina, Ibrahim Moustafá Gabr, and the Great Rabbi Shlomo Ben Hamú. The Sheikh underlined that “this ceremony is a show of fraternity and union in the main goal of achieving love and peace in the world”, explaining that the Koran encourages to “maintain good relations with other nations” and prohibits instilling fear.
The Rabbi, in turn, cited a verse of the psalms, “it is pleasant and good for brothers to dwell together”, adding that in the orations of the Sabbaths, his community prays “for peace in the nation” that in this new year “is called for the entire world”. The director of the Latin American Jewish Congress, Claudio Epelman, added that “Jews and Muslims, both like heirs of Patriarch Abraham, are brothers in faith”.
Bishop Carlos Malfa and other figures of the Catholic community were also present at the gathering. This joint event, which can already be considered a tradition in the making, came as a result of the gathering of two years ago that brought together the national leaders of the three “religions of the book” (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) for the funeral of the late president of the Islamic Centre of the Republic of Argentina, Adel Made.
On that occasion, the spokesman for the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Father Guillermo Marcó, emphasised that the president of the Islamic Centre “was the initiator of the dialogue we have today”. As written by the journalist Sergio Rubin in an editorial of August 2005: “Those who in these days say they do not believe in cohabitation of the Jewish-Christian west with the Islamic world must come over here to Argentina”.