Turkey sends condolences to Catholics

Turkey's interior minister sent his condolences to all Catholics on Friday for the murder of a priest in the mostly Muslim country.

Rev. Andrea Santoro, a 60-year-old Italian, was shot dead Sunday as he knelt in prayer at his church in the Black Sea city of Trabzon. A 16-year-old boy has been charged in Santoro's murder.

Witnesses say the killer screamed "Allahu Akbar," Arabic for "God is great," before firing two bullets into Santoro's back. Santoro's body was returned to Italy on Tuesday.

"There can be no religious, philosophical or humane explanation for the murder of a man of faith in a house of worship," Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu said. "I send my condolences once again to priest Andrea Santoro's family, loved ones, and to the whole Catholic community."

On Thursday, a group of young men attacked and threatened another Catholic priest in Turkey. The priest, a Slovenian, told Italian state TV the men grabbed him by the throat, threw him into a garden and threatened to kill him.

Aksu said the attacks on priests were an attack against the entire country.

He also urged Turks not to respond violently to the recent publication of cartoons lampooning Islam's most revered prophet.

The "caricatures have no relation to freedoms of the press and expression and threaten world peace, which we need now more than ever," Aksu said. "Whatever our level of agitation, we need to be calm, patient, and not enter these planned games aiming to draw us in,' reports the AP.


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