LONDON PRAYER TIME DAWN: 05:59 SUNRISE: 07:39 ZOHR:: 11:49 MAGHRIB: 16:12
Turkish ministry sponsors religious journey of Shiite elders
Turkey Culture and Tourism Minister's project aims for reconciliation between Turkey's Sunni and Shiite communities.
Turkey will sponsor a group of 100 Alawite (Shiite) elders' religious journey to Najaf and Karbala, Iraqi cities revered by Shi'a muslims, and an Umraht pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudia Arabia.
Omar Celik, Turkey's Culture and Tourism Minister, said the project is an attempt at reconciliation between Turkey's Sunni and minority Alawite communities.
"The Family of the Prophet, Najaf, Kerbela, Mecca and Medina are all holy lands of the Islamic world," said Celik.
He added that the ministry plans to increase the number of journeys of this kind and the number of people attending them.
The group will first visit the Iraqi province of Najaf where the first Imam of Shia, Imam Ali, the successor of the Prophet Muhammad is buried.
The Najaf shrine is one of the holiest site for some of the estimated 200 million followers of the Shi'a branch of Islam.
Then they will visit Karbala, where Imam Ali's son, Imam Hussein, was martyred together with his 72 followers.
The group will then head to Saudi Arabia's holy cities: Mecca and Medina.