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28 Nov, 2006 06:12

Pope calls for religious reconciliation

Pope calls for religious reconciliation

Christians and Muslims must continue an open dialogue because they believe in the same God, Pope Benedict XVI said in his first speech during his visit to Turkey.

Meeting with the country's President and Prime minister Pope Benedict expressed his support for Turkey's bid to join the EU.
The Pontiff has described Turkey as “a meeting point of religions and cultures between Europe and Asia.” In his speech Pope has also urged that all religious leaders ``utterly refuse'' to support any form of violence in the name of faith. He has expressed worry that the risks of more conflicts and terrorism are growing in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Still, many Muslims are still angry about controversial remarks the Pope made in September about the nature of Islam.

The meeting at the airport was very formal. Pope Benedict the XVI spoke to the Turkish Prime Minister who was leaving for the NATO summit in Riga. More than 30,000 people went into the street under the slogan: “Pope is not welcome”. That rally was organised by a radical Islamic party, which is not even represented in the Turkish parliament.

In September, they joined other Muslims around the world in expressing their disgust at a comment made at a lecture by the Pontiff, in which he quoted a Byzantine Emperor, who said “show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

The Vatican claimed the Pope had been misunderstood, and quoted out of context, but his expression of regret – rather than a full apology – was simply not good enough for many Muslim communities.
On Sunday around 25,000 people joined a pro-Islamic demonstration against Benedict in Ankara – the largest held so far. 
He'll also face tough questions about an opinion voiced before his inauguration; that Turkey doesn't belong in the EU because of its Muslim population.