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Pope urges Muslims to condemn IS

Sat 29 Nov 2014
By Antony Bushfield

Pope Francis will hold talks with senior Muslims today where he's expected to reiterate calls for them to openly condemn the actions of Islamic State.

The Pontiff is on a trip to predominantly Muslim country Turkey and is due to visit a mosque in Istanbul.

He'll also say mass at the city's cathedral.

Yesterday he urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" committed in Iraq and Syria in the name of Islam.

The Holy Father is in the country to improve inter faith relations but has taken the opportunity to raise the problem of Islamic State.

The extremist group has forced the majority of Christians in many parts of the Middle East to flee their homes.

In some places it offered an ultimatum to believers to pay a tax or face death.

Speaking yesterday at Turkey's government-run Religious Affairs Directorate the Pope said: "As religious leaders, we are obliged to denounce all violations against human dignity and human rights.

"As such, any violence which seeks religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation because the omnipotent is the God of life and peace."

He also reaffirmed his belief that military action was justified to stop the extremists.

Mehmet Gormez, Turkey's top cleric, said: "Those who veer away from the message of Islam - which is a call for peace - and spread violence and savagery are in a state of rebellion against Allah no matter what they call themselves."

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Islamophobia in the West was a factor in the rise of Islamic State.

"Those who feel defeated, wronged, oppressed and abandoned ... can become open to being exploited by terror organisations," he said.

The Pope is due to visit Sultan Ahmet mosque, Turkey's most important place of Muslim worship, before saying mass at Istanbul Cathedral.

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