Erdoğan raises global Muslim issues with Pope – adviser

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed the problems of Muslims across the globe with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday, one of his senior advisers said.

Erdoğan, in the first visit by a Turkish head of state since diplomatic relations were established in 1960, talked with the Pope about the status of Jerusalem at length, as well as rising Islamophobia in the West, the reasons for Turkey’s invasion of Syria and the plight of Rohingya Muslims, İlnur Çevik wrote in Daily Sabah newspaper.

“Turkey is a major player in the Islamic world with much clout,” he said. “Now they (Turkey and the Vatican) can cooperate and join forces in the mission to help the oppressed.”

The Pope supported Erdoğan’s spearheading of the Islamic world's opposition at the United Nations General Assembly to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, Çevik said. Erdoğan pledged to mobilize Turkish support to help Christians in the Middle East in every possible way, just as the Ottomans did in their 600-year history, he said.

Erdoğan asked the Pope to help Muslims stand up to Islamophobia, which could turn into a disaster in most areas of Western Europe, Çevik said.

“The problem that started as xenophobia has mushroomed into enmity toward all Muslims, especially in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and France,” Çevik said. “The Vatican has also drawn attention to the problem, but Turkey wants a concerted and continuous international effort to fight Islamophobia.”