Religion briefs from the Associated Press

AP Published:

Pope hopes to visit U.S. in 2015

Associated Press

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE — Pope Francis said he hopes to travel to the United States in September 2015 for a possible three-city tour. The visit would include a rally in Philadelphia, an address to Congress and a stop at the United Nations.

He said a Mexico stop on that trip was possible but not decided yet. He also said he might make one-day visit to Spain next year.

Extremism is Islam’s enemy

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s top cleric said extremism — and the ideologies of groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida — is Islam’s No. 1 enemy and that Muslims have been their first victims. 

Grand Mufti Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik also said in his public statement that terrorism has no place in Islam, and the danger of extremists lies in their use of Islamic slogans to justify their actions that divide people.

King Abdullah has been pressing clerics to publicly condemn Islamic extremist groups since the government made it illegal for citizens to fight in conflicts abroad. Clerics who do not condemn terrorism in traditional Friday sermons could face penalties, such as having their licenses to preach revoked.

The Islamic State group’s advances in Iraq and Syria have heightened security concerns in neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia. The group has declared an Islamic state in the territory it controls, imposing its harsh interpretation of Islamic law.

University of Southern California professor Philip Seib said the Saudis realize the Islamic State could use social media to make inroads with some Saudis.

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