Bolding in red is mine.
Turin, 15 Nov. (AKI) - Turkey's top Muslim official who recently demanded an apology from Pope Benedict XVI for remarks the head of the Catholic Church made on Islam, believes the pontiff's safety won't be at risk during the papal visit to Turkey which begins on 28 November. "We are a democratic state and there's freedom: that's why some people don't approve of this visit and they say so. But this won't detract from our traditional hospitality," said Ali Bardakoglu head of the state department for religious affairs, the Diyanet (Mercy).
"This trip [the pope's to Turkey] won't resolve all the problems but it is a good step on the path to dialogue. Peace can be destroyed in an istant [sic] but it takes a long process to rebuild it," Bardakoglu was quoted as saying in an interview published Wednesday in the Turin-based daily La Stampa.
The Turkish cleric was among Benedict's most vocal critics after the pope on 12 September in a speech at a university in Regensburg, Germany appeared to suggest that the Islamic belief in jihad or holy war ran against the will of God and that Islam is at odds with the concept of rationality.
Asked if he would again ask for Benedict's apology [since B16 never gave one], Bardakoglu replied: "I don't waste time speaking about the past. It's not important whether the person who says something unacceptable on Islam is a layman, a religious figure or an important person - it is one's duty to correct him."
In the interview, Bardakoglu - who will be meeting Benedict XVI in Ankara - denied that Islam is irrational and described the meaning of jihad as "mainly an individual internal struggle agains the evil tendencies of human nature."
On Tuesday the Vatican's ambassador to Turkey, Apostolic Nuncio, Antonio Lucibello, said "we trust the sincerity of Turkish authorities," after meeting Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas.
On 2 November, a Turkish man fired a gun against the Italian consulate in Istanbul chanting slogans against Benedict and threatening to shoot him during the papal visit to Turkey. Police said they believed the 26-year-old man who was later arrested acted alone.
It's just this kind of thing that leaves me leery. I don't really expect anything to happen to Benedict while he's in Turkey. There will be too much security for that and the government would never allow an assassination to jeopardize its status with the EU. But it's just this kind of language that I've pointed out that illustrates why Turkey shouldn't be included. Michael Crichton wrote of the Japanese that their thinking was 'fundamentally different'. And note, he was writing of a society that is thoroughly modern and thoroughly Westernized. While proclaiming its secularity and Westernism, Turkey is busy preventing the Orthodox from training priests, suppressing any mention of the Armenian genocide and forcibly dealing with Kurdish autonomy aspirations. The Turks are going to eventually suffer the consequences and realize that they can't keep one foot in Asia and the other in Europe and play both sides without losing.