On Sunday, Pope Francis asked all Muslim religious, political, and intellectual leaders to “clearly” and unambiguously condemn Islamic terrorism. In a press conference in the airplane taking him from Istanbul back to Rome, Jorge Bergoglio was asked about jihadist group terrorism and the “Islamophobia” it creates. He said he requested this unambiguous condemnation during a talk with the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“I told him that it would be wonderful if all the Muslim political, religious, and intellectual leaders in the world took a clear position and denounced this violence. It damages Islam”.
“It would help a majority of Muslims if it came from the mouth of these political, religious and intellectual leaders. We all need an overall condemnation” of this terrorism, he said.
“It is true”, the Pope added, “there is an adverse reaction to these acts, not just in this zone (Iraq, Syria), but also in Africa: they think, if that’s Islam, I don’t like it! I get angry. And so many Muslims are horrified, and say: we are not these people. The Koran is a prophetic book of peace”.
Francis also criticized those who “say that all Muslims are terrorists. As we can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists”, he observed.
He also criticized “Christianophobia”: Islamists that “persecute Christians in the Far East. They must either leave, and lose everything, or pay a tax”.
And in certain countries, he added, some leaders “persecute Christians with white gloves”, without violence but with administration. “It’s as if they wanted to get rid of Christians in these countries”, he said, but didn’t say which countries he was talking about.
The Pope quoted a Muslim ambassador who told him “inter-faith dialogue had reached the end of the line”. “We need to make huge changes”, he said. He also said that, more important than dialogue between intellectuals, there should be dialogue between “religious people of different faiths” on their “religious experience”.