November 2, 2006
ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- Police say they have arrested a man who allegedly fired a pistol into the air outside the Italian consulate in Istanbul, then shouted slogans in protest of Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit.
The man, who was identified by police sources as Ibrahim Ak, according to CNN Turk, threw the gun on the grounds of the consulate shortly before his arrest on Thursday.
"I don't want him here, if he was here now I would strangle him with my bare hands," the suspect, who identified himself as Ibrahim Ak, 26, told a Dogan news agency television camera as he was detained by police, according to The Associated Press.
"I fired the shots for God," Ak said as he sat handcuffed inside a police van outside the consulate. "Inshallah (God willing), this will be a spark, a starter for Muslims."
"God willing, he will not come, if he comes, he will see what will happen to him Inshallah," Ak said.
No one was injured in the incident, which comes a day after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan announced he would not meet the pontiff during his November 28-30 visit.
"I believe (the shooting) is a very isolated and marginal act," chief Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, told CNN. He said he did not believe it would jeopardize the planning of the pope's trip, which was being carried out calmly.
Erdogan will be at a NATO summit during the pope's visit, but some see the move as a snub.
The pope's trip follows a controversial speech in Germany in which he quoted a 14th-century emperor who said the Muslim Prophet Mohammed's teachings are "evil and inhuman."
That speech in mid-September prompted widespread criticism from Muslims. The pope has made a series of increasingly apologetic statements since then.