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The new Pope Francis will be closely scrutinised by non-Christians – including in Turkey.

Comments made by his predecessor in 2006 quoting historical references on Islam were interpreted negatively by many Muslims, although Benedict was also credited with doing much for inter-faith dialogue.

In an Istanbul cafe there was cautious optimism as men sat watching the events in Rome unfold on television.

“ I hope the new pope does not make people miss the previous one. I believe that this change will serve world peace, it will be better for the Muslim world too,” said one man.

Benedict made several visits to Islamic countries, including Turkey, to build bridges after the controversy seven years ago.

But for some the damage was done.

“We are Muslims, we do not welcome those kind of statements. We cannot interfere in their affairs. But I hope this pope will be different from the previous one,” said another man in the cafe.

The comments illustrate perhaps how important it is for the new Pope Francis to get off to a good start.

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