Pope Benedict warned not to travel to Turkey | india | Hindustan Times
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Pope Benedict warned not to travel to Turkey

india Updated: Sep 21, 2006 08:25 IST

The man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981 has warned Pope Benedict XVI, whose remarks enraged Muslims last week, not to visit this predominantly Muslim country in November, saying the pontiff's life could be in danger, the gunman's lawyer said.

"As a man who knows these things, I am saying that your life is in danger, don't come to Turkey. I can't welcome you because I'm in prison," lawyer Mustafa Demirbag quoted Mehmet Ali Agca as saying.

The lawyer said Agca made his statement during a meeting at the high-security Kartal prison in Istanbul on Monday.

Demirbag said he would visit the gunman on Thursday again and was expecting his client to make further statements.

Benedict XVI said on Wednesday that he has "deep respect" for Islam but did not offer an apology as demanded by some Muslim leaders offended by the pontiff's remarks in Germany last week.

During his speech, the pontiff cited a Medieval text that characterised some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman", particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith".

Agca speculated in a handwritten letter that the Pope was pressured by secret services to make such a statement.

Agca called on Benedict to step down as Pope and return to Germany for a peaceful life.

There have long been questions about Agca's mental health. He fired on John Paul as the pontiff rode in an open car at St Peter's Square on May 13, 1981.