Turk shoots at Italy consulate over Pope visit

By Daren Butler

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A man fired a weapon in front of the Italian consulate in Istanbul on Thursday to protest against Pope Benedict’s visit to the predominantly Muslim country later this month, raising concern over the Pontiff’s safety there.

“I did what every Muslim has do to. God willing, the Pope will not come to Turkey, but if he does he will see what will happen to him,” 26-year-old Ibrahim Ak told the DHA news agency while sitting in a police car after he was detained.

Benedict’s first visit to Turkey on November 28-December 1 has been overshadowed by Muslim anger since a lecture he gave in September at a German university in which he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor in a passage seen as critical of the Prophet Mohammad.

“We think that this is something that is an isolated incident and does not disturb the overall calm preparations for the trip,” chief Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Reuters.