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One Love, Pope Francis Prays in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque

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Pope Francis on Saturday, the second day of his visit to Turkey prayed alongside a senior Islamic cleric in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque.

The blue mosque, known officially as the Sultanahmet Mosque, opened in 1616 and was the most famous in Turkey.

Its popular name was a reference to the fine blue Iznik tiles in its main prayer room.

The Vatican City spokesman described it as a gesture of inter-religious harmony and a joint “moment of silent adoration” of God.

Francis took off his shoes as he entered the huge mosque before bowing his head in prayer for several minutes, facing Mecca and standing next to Istanbul’s Grand Mufti Rahmi Yaran.

A similar act by his predecessor Pope Benedict in 2006 drew criticism from conservative Catholics and some Muslims.

Halil Ibrahim Cil, 24, a hospital worker from Istanbul, said there was need to show respect for each other’s beliefs.

He said God willing the pope’s visit would help in this respect.

“We want to practice our religion in peace, as we want people to understand Islam, more so we don’t want war, Islam is a religion of peace’’, he said.

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