Calling on all Muslim leaders around the globe to condemn the violence and bloodshed perpetrated by Islamic State and other Islamic radical groups, Pope Francis urged to toss away the stereotype linking terrorism to Islam.
Speaking aboard the flight back to Rome after wrapping an eventful three-day trip to Turkey, the Pope attended a press conference, answering a volley of questions including those on Islamic State and atrocities on Christians in the Middle East.
Talking about how the ISIS crisis in the Middle East has sparked concerns about the possibility of all Muslims being stereotyped (of being linked to terrorism), the Pope said, “I firmly believe that one can’t say all Muslims are terrorists, just as all Christians aren’t fundamentalists, even though we have some.”
Seeking to strike a chord with the Muslims, Pope said he understood the anger of those Muslims who were stereotyped because of Islamic terror and talked about the need for “a global condemnation” by their leaders.
“I get angry. So many Muslims are offended and say ‘we are not these people, the Quran is a work of peace… it is a prophetic book of peace. This is not Islam’.”
He urged all Muslim leaders to come together to condemn the violence committed in the name of Islam so that it would help those Muslims who fear that the world would try to paint them all with the same brush.
“I told the (Turkish) president it would be beautiful if all Islamic leaders, [including] politicians, religious leaders, and academics, clearly spoke out clearly and condemn (the violence perpetrated in the name of religion) because this would help the majority of Muslim people,” the Pope said.
The pontiff however balanced his remarks by saying that he won’t “use sweet words” to downplay the threat posed by the Islamic radicals to the Christians in parts of the Middle East.
“They’re kicking Christians out of the Middle East,” he said, referring to the atrocities meted out on Christians in and around Mosul in Iraq, who were forced by the Islamic State “to either pay a tax or leave everything behind.”