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    Prayer in the Hagia Sophia not a "must" for the Pope, says Vatican's Istanbul rep

    Hürriyet Haber
    22.09.2005 - 09:33 | Son Güncelleme:

    Vatican City's Istanbul representative, Georges Markovitch, has responded to Ankara's voiced concern over the possibility that Pope Benedict XVI might want to pray in the Hagia Sophia during a visit to Istanbul. Markovitch's comments on the situation stressed that it was not an absolute necessity for the Pope to pray in the Hagia Sophia, and that he "understands the concern and sensitivity that Ankara has about 'certain circles' which might try to use prayer in the Hagia Sophia by the Pope" as a tool for religious protest. Markovitch did point out though that "There is a section reserved in the Hagia Sophia for prayer by Muslims, and the call to prayer does ring out from its minarets."

    Interestingly, Markovitch himself has just recently become a citizen of Turkey, with the specific aid of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to the Vatican City representative, he and his 84 year old older sister have been trying for the past 20 years to obtain citizenship. Said Marovitch: "These are the lands where we were born and grew up. My line of ancestry has been here since the Ottoman times. Like every Turkish youth, I have attached great importance to working for my country. I am honored and happy to do so."
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