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 honestly think it would be best that the Pope cancel his visit. This situation has the enormous potential to get out of control, and fast. All it would take is an assassination or at least a serious attempt, to incite a major upheaval in both the Christian and Muslim worlds.
Don't get me wrong, though. I am not for backing down in certain situations that occur naturally, through the course(s) of planned or unplanned events. It's not from fear that my concerns originate. I just do not feel it is wise to tempt things, when the milieu is already hostile.
In this specific case, the risks far outweigh the benefits. I cannot think of one thing that needs to be accomplished that cannot wait until the climate has returned to a cooler temperature. We see that the pot is simmering, why return it to a roiling boil that could easily boil over?
But the larger issue in all of this is fairly evident. This situation further validates the need for Europe to look seriously at Turkey's application, for membership into the EU. Combine this action with the recent book by Turkish novelist, Burak Turna and you will see a mood of anger and hostility that is beginning to permeate Turkish society.
The animosity even reaches the highest levels of the Turkish government.
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's decision not to meet Pope Benedict during his visit to Turkey is a diplomatic snub following the pontiff's recent criticism of Islam, Italian commentators said on Thursday.
"You can paint this any way you want but from a western point of view, this is bad manners," said a front-page editorial in Rome's Il Messaggero newspaper.
I cannot envision an EU member nation that would be dangerous for a Pope to visit, nor could I imagine an official snub by its leader. Not only that, but with the last would be papal assassin being Turkish, we seem to have all of the proof we need that there is a powerful element within the Turkish boundaries that abhor western symbols; and they would not give a second thought to doing whatever necessary to bring them down.
That, within itself, should be enough to convince the Pope to stay home and the EU to reject Turkey, as a trusted member of the European Union. But if it doesn't, just imagine the backlash if the Pope is harmed in any way. Imagine the problems that would be created if it were to happen after Turkey was admitted.