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Salim Makki's essay: 'A true hero defends and helps the hopeless'

Special to The Detroit News

The junior defensive tackle, who is a practicing Muslim, shares in an essay why he would like to meet Pope Francis.

Dear Coach Harbaugh,

First off I would like to thank you for the opportunity to visit Rome. I will not take our trip for granted and will be sure to take full advantage of the experience in order to learn and grow both as a football player and a man. I realize that the true essence of this trip is to further my relationship with my teammates and coaches. As in a family, there is no better way to build character and comradery then with a good ole road trip.

Defensive tackle Salim Makki

After receiving the message today to be considered for the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I knew I had to jump on it. I am a devoted Muslim but my grandmother was a Christian and I have had the fortune of having the values of both religions instilled in me. Growing up my father taught me the importance of coexistence in religions and respecting the beliefs of others. Last semester, I intentionally enrolled in the course "The History of Jesus" to advance my knowledge of Jesus Christ in order to relate with my teammates and coaches.

His Holiness Pope Francis is sincerely one my heroes. In a time where Muslims have been scrutinized and wrongly identified with violence, Pope Francis has defended Islam and stated that not all Muslims are violent. His Holiness has continued his support of lslam by washing the feet of Syrian Muslim refugees and calling for mutual respect during the holy month of Ramadan. A true hero defends and helps the hopeless, and that's why Pope Francis is a hero.

Again. I cannot thank you enough for this opportunity. I know what His Holiness means to you and your family and giving the players this opportunity shows your gratitude, selflessness, and consideration for others and that is the values of the Pope himself.

Thank you for your consideration, and Go Blue!

Salim Makki