Pope begins official visit to Turkey

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI is in Turkey for his first trip to a Muslim country. The Roman Catholic Church leader arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara under very tight security measures and had a brief meeting for 20 minutes with Prime Minister, Rejep Tayyip Erdogan. According to the official program of the Papal visit, Benedict XVI will also visit the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic.

Tomorrow, the Pope has scheduled to visit Istanbul in order to meet with the spiritual leader of the Christian Orthodox Church, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Fener, Istanbul. On the same day, during his stay in Istanbul, the Pope will visit the Byzantine Church of Hagia Sophia as well as the Blue Mosque.

The Pope's visit to Turkey has provoked anger from the side of Islamists who demomstrated in Ankara and Istanbul two days before Benedict's arrival. In a speech to an academic audience, some months ago, the Pope quoted a Byzantine Emperor who characterised Islam as a violent religion.