ROME: Top Italian Catholic clergy and politicians have been paying tribute to the imam of the city of Perugia, who died aged 72 from COVID-19.
Abdel Qader Mohamad, a retired medical doctor who had lived in Perugia since the 1970s, was respected by the city’s Muslim community and strived to maintain good relations with the local Catholic Church.
Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, archbishop of Perugia and chairman of the Italian Episcopal Conference, expressed his “great sadness and emotion” over the death of Mohamad, whom he considered “a personal friend” and “brother.”
Bassetti added: “Especially in the early years of my pastoral service in Perugia as archbishop, we had so many occasions to work and pray together for the welfare of our faithful.” He described Mohamad as “as a true believer and man of prayer.”
Don Mauro Pesce, head of the Catholic Office for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, and Prof. Annarita Caponera, president of the San Martino Ecumenical and University Center and of the Council of Christian Churches in Perugia, said the city had lost “one of its most significant representatives of interreligious dialogue.”
They described Mohamad as “an enlightened and wise guide of the Perugian Islamic community,” and “a man of great brotherhood, humanity and generosity.”
Perugia Mayor Andrea Romizi also paid tribute, as did Sen. Nadia Ginetti, who had granted Mohamad Italian citizenship when she was mayor of Corciano, a town on the outskirts of Perugia where he had lived with his family.
The Union of Islam Communities in Italy described Mohamad as a “pillar” for the country’s Muslims.