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Pope Francis In Turkey Calls For Faiths To Combat Extremism

In his first visit as pope to the largely Muslim country of Turkey, Pope Francis said on Friday that inter-religious dialogue is necessary to combat Islamic State militants who are attacking religious minorities along Turkey’s southern border.

In a speech in Ankara alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Pope Francis called on followers of all faiths to respect human dignity and freedom of religion, saying that fanaticism and fundamentalism and fears that foster discrimination must be countered by the unity of believers of all faiths, CNN reported.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Pope Francis”]

To this end, it is essential that all citizens — Muslim, Jewish and Christian — both in the provision and practice of the law, enjoy the same rights and respect the same duties. They will then find it easier to see each other as brothers and sisters who are traveling the same path.


Francis discussed the need to focus on what faiths share in common and learn from differences to repair the often strained relationship between Muslims and Christians.

Francis also called for fighting against fundamentalism and extremism, particularly in the Middle East, saying that the US-led assaults against ISIS are not enough.

The papacy has had a tarnished image among Turkish Muslims since 2006, when Pope Benedict XVI quoted a Byzantine emperor who called Islam “evil and inhuman,” the New York Times reported.

In his speech, Erdogan spoke of what he called a disturbing trend of increasing Islamophobia and racism in the West, as well as Islamic extremism that is tearing apart the Middle East. He said the world must work together to combat religious terrorism, suggesting the West not turn a blind eye to abuses committed by Syrian President al-Assad in pursuit of ISIS.

The Pope’s three-day trip to Turkey, which is only the fourth visit by a pope to the country, comes as Turkey hosts an estimated 1.6 million refugees on its southern border after Islamic State militants seized large regions of neighboring Iraq and Syria. The pope has reportedly been welcomed by Turks as the leader of a faith that is not their own. The country is now 99% Muslim, but it has a long Christian history and was once the center of the predominantly Christian Byzantine Empire, the BBC reported.

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