Muslim Says Turks Esteem Benedict XVI

ROME, DEC. 1, 2005 ( Benedict XVI will be «more than welcome» in Turkey, says a Turkish professor of the history of Islam.

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Nahide Bozkurt, who is in Rome as a guest professor at the Institute of Cultures and Religions of the Gregorian University, explained that for many Turkish Muslims, the Pope is «a spiritual man, holy.»

The Holy Father plans to visit Turkey next year. On Wednesday, a Vatican delegation was in Istanbul to celebrate the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Orthodox patriarchate.

«Many people believe in the Pope; he has spiritual power,» Bozkurt told ZENIT. «If he comes to Turkey, he will be much appreciated.»

Bozkurt is the first woman to teach the history of Islam in a school of theology in Turkey. In Rome, she is professor of Islam among Christian students.

«I feel as if I were at home in Rome, I don’t have any feelings whatsoever of being abroad, I am treated with great familiarity,» she said, explaining her teaching experience in a pontifical university.

«The students, all of them Christians,» added this professor of Ankara’s School of Theology, «are very eager and have great capacity to learn, and no prejudices about Islam, and this makes me happy.»

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