Senegal imams tour Yad Vashem in tie-boosting trip
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Senegal imams tour Yad Vashem in tie-boosting trip

Itinerary includes prayer at al-Aqsa, visits to Haifa and Acre

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

President Reuven Rivlin meets with a delegation of imams from Senegal, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on November 27, 2014. (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO/FLASH90)
President Reuven Rivlin meets with a delegation of imams from Senegal, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on November 27, 2014. (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO/FLASH90)

A delegation of six African imams toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial and met with President Rueven Rivlin as part of a confidence-building visit to Israel this week.

Rivlin told the Senegalese Muslim leaders that there would never be a “war between Judaism and Islam.”

“Your arrival here signifies to me friendship and understanding and the ability for us to come together, each with our own beliefs yet in agreement that God is the only God,” he told them during as they paid a visit to the President’s Residence on Thursday.

On Wednesday the group visited Yad Vashem and declared that it had given them new insights into the Jewish people and the State of Israel, the Ynet news site reported.

“Today we learned about an event in history — the destruction of the Jews in Europe, an event that cannot be explained,” said El Hadji Oumar Diene, director of the Senegal Imams’ Organization. “The tour enabled us to understand Israel and the Jews in depth and we welcome the relations between our countries.”

Earlier in the day the group traveled to the Temple Mount where they prayed at the Al-Aqsa mosque and also took time to visit the adjacent Western Wall plaza.

After meeting Rivlin, the imams were scheduled to travel north to Haifa and Acre, where they were to meet with local rabbis.

The religious leaders were invited to visit Israel by the Foreign Ministry’s Africa Department and the Diaspora and Religions Division together with the embassy in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.

The imams, who were accompanied by Senegalese media, came despite the recent security fears in the wake of a series of terror attacks in Jerusalem and prolonged rioting in East Jerusalem.

The tour was aimed at improving diplomatic and cultural relations between Israel and Senegal, as well as improving religious dialogue between the countries. Senegal, which is overwhelmingly Muslim, is a member of the Organization of Islamic Countries and also chairs the United Nations Palestinian Rights Committee.

Aside from their religious focus, Senegalese authorities were also interested in learning about Israeli agricultural developments.

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