Pope Francis calls for respect for religious freedom on trip to Turk

Pope Francis calls for respect for religious freedom on trip to Turkey

10:15 * 29.11.14

Pope Francis demanded respect for religious freedom during a meeting
with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, a call that
will resonate particularly with Christians who say they suffer
discrimination in a country where Islam has reasserted itself in the
public sphere, WSJ reported.

At the start of a three-day visit to Turkey, the pope also reaffirmed
his belief in dialogue between religions, saying it could be a key
part of bringing peace to the region. Relations between Christian and
Muslims have come under strain in recent months amid violence against
Christians by Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, with some critics
saying Islamic leaders haven’t denounced the atrocities strongly

“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,” the pope said. “Interreligious and
intercultural dialogue can make an important contribution to [peace],
so that there will be an end to all forms of fundamentalism and

Pope Francis’ outreach to Islam during his 20-month papacy has earned
him praise by Muslim leaders. In making his comments, the pope walked
a fine line between extending a hand to Muslim leaders and prodding
them to do more to guarantee the rights of non-Muslim minorities, at
home and across borders.

Mr. Erdogan, a pious Muslim who has scaled back the rigid secularism
that long reigned in Turkey, held up the country’s Islamic-infused
democracy as a model for reconciliation in a region torn by sectarian
strife. But the country’s small Christian population argues its rights
are being trampled.

Mr. Erdogan welcomed the pope’s call for religious tolerance while
pointing out that Islamophobia was on the rise. He underlined the
issue of “increasing prejudice and intolerance against Muslims.”


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