ANKARA - As reaction against the statements of Pope Benedict XVI which appeared on Thursday`s newspapers, Turkey`s Director of Religious Affairs Ali Bardakoglu said, "this is an extraordinarily worrying, saddening and unfortunate statement both in the name of the Christianity and common peace of humanity."

"I have read the news reports in astonishment," Bardakoglu said in his remarks to A.A. correspondent.

"If the pope was reflecting the spite, hatred and enmity in his own inside world, then the situation was even worse" he emphasized.

Bardakoglu Thursday asked Pope Benedict XVI to deny the recent remarks he made about Islam and noted he expected an apology from the pope.

"Biased and hostile assessments are common in the Western world about Islam and its prophet," Bardakoglu said.

"The church and the Western public, because they saw Islam as an enemy, had organized the crusades. They occupied Istanbul and killed thousands of people. Orthodox Christians and Jews were killed and tortured," he reminded.

Bardakoglu said, "They (the Christians) consider war against those outside the Christianity as a holy duty. That`s why the Western clerics always keep in the back of their minds a mentality of crusader and the idea of holy war."

Bardakoglu asked the Pope to "look in the mirror" before making remarks about Islam, wanted him to restrain his own feelings and adopt the concepts (often mentioned in the West) like peace, love and respect towards others.

"Statements of Pope are not within the framework of virtues like respect to others and respect to the religion. This is not even a criticism," Bardakoglu underscored.

He said, "If he (the Pope) is trying to malign the holy values, prophet and holy book of a religion, this is insolence, a hostile expression and something unfortunate triggering clash of religions."

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