Tens of thousands of Turkish Muslims have been gathering in Istanbul for an anti-Pope protest ahead of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday. Although Turkey is officially secular, many among the country’s Muslim majority population are angry at comments made by the Pope in September. His remarks were taken by many as meaning Islam was violent and irrational.
The Vatican has since expressed regret for any offence caused but has stopped short of a full apology. In anticipation of the papal visit, security measures have been stepped up.
It is thought there are plans for the pontiff to attend Istanbul’s famous Blue Mosque. It would be his first ever visit to a mosque and he would be only the second Pope to do so.