“I was really very moved when I first read Pope Francis’s message. I felt that the pope is representing me in every word, in everything he said,” Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salem, a Muslim, told America in an interview after speaking at the Vatican presentation of the pope’s new encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” on Oct. 4.
He is the first Muslim ever to present a papal encyclical. Advisor to the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, he is now secretary general of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity set up to promote that historic document which the two religious leaders signed in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 4, 2019.
He views the pope’s encyclical as “the guide to putting into practice the Human Fraternity document,” and he considers the latter as “the constitution” for fostering Christian-Muslim relations. “I see both documents as a very strong barrier against hatred and racism, and evil in general,” he said. “The real Islam and the real Christianity is against intolerance and these negative forces,” he stated.
He said, “The thing that really impressed me is his talk about human dignity, when addressing the causes of migration and the displacement of people, he said that human dignity was trampled upon, lost at the border between the developed world [Europe] and the Third World.”