Source: St. Petersburg Times
On April 7, 2005 the St. Petersburg Times printed a letter to the editor by Ahmed Bedier, Central Florida director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Tampa, in which he expressed condolenses for the death of Pope John Paul II. Bedier wrote, "On behalf of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim community, I would like to offer our sincere condolences on the death of Pope John Paul II to members of the Roman Catholic Church and to all people of conscience. Muslims worldwide respected Pope John Paul II as an advocate for peace, justice and human rights. He worked tirelessly to build tolerance and understanding among people of all faiths. Muslims will remember Pope John Paul II as the first Pontiff to visit a mosque. In May 2001 the pope visited the Ummayad Mosque in the Syrian capital of Damascus, where he held and kissed a copy of the Koran. Furthermore, he built bridges between Christians, Jews and Muslims and encouraged respect for diversity."