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When Faiths Collide: The Pope in Turkey

Aired December 1, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening from Istanbul.
Tonight: a historic trip, a historic week. The pope visits the Muslim world. Will the journey bring two faiths closer together or further apart?


ANNOUNCER: The pope's plea.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: I offer you my sentiments of respect.

ANNOUNCER: A high-stakes visit to Turkey, partly aimed at replacing the rage. Did the pope accomplish his goal?

Inside Turkey -- part modern, part ancient, where the future meets the past.

And where al Qaeda is leaving its mark. Hear why this Muslim and lawyer thinks suicide attacks are permitted by the Koran.

And a place to pray to their blessed mother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Catholic, and I feel that this is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

ANNOUNCER: But would you believe Muslims pray here, too? All faiths drawn to the house of the Virgin Mary -- a true miracle.


ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "When Faiths Collide: The Pope in Turkey."

Reporting tonight from Istanbul, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Thanks for being with us again.

We're in Istanbul, a city that literally sits on two continents -- on this side, Europe, the other side, Asia. Like the city, the country is at a crossroads, caught between the old world and the new, the East and the West.

This is a nation that's almost entirely Muslim, which makes this week's visit by Pope Benedict XVI here all the more extraordinary, especially when you consider what he said about Islam and the Prophet Mohammed just a couple months ago.

Tonight, we will give you all the angles, from the impact on Christians and Muslims everywhere, to how al Qaeda has infiltrated this secular nation.

We begin, however, with Benedict and the pope's message that inflamed the Muslim world.


COOPER (voice-over): It began with applause, ended in violence, ignited a firestorm that continues to burn.

While the tensions between Christianity and Islam are centuries old, it took Pope Benedict XVI just 32 words to stir them to life. It remains his most defining speech, given in his native Germany just one day after the fifth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.

In a theme he has touched on before, Benedict talked about the relationship between Christianity and Islam, saying, historically, the church has attempted to find faith through reason, while some Muslims have, at times, embraced violence to spread their faith.

To illustrate the point, the pontiff quoted from a 14th century emperor.

POPE BENEDICT XVI (through translator): Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and, there, you will find things only evil and inhumane, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

COOPER: It was undeniably provocative.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: No question that Benedict XVI has a slightly tougher message on Islam than his predecessor, John Paul II.

John Paul was the great bridge-builder with Muslims. He met with Muslims more than 60 times over the course of his pontificate. He was the first pope to go inside a mosque. I think Benedict believes that, now that those bridges have been built, it's time for us to walk over them.

COOPER: That may have been the pope's message, but this was the response. A wave of anger erupted across the Muslim world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The pope has dishonored our prophet. He said our prophet was a terrorist and he had used a sword.

COOPER: From Italy to Iraq, Indonesia, and beyond, effigies of the pope were burned. So, too, were churches in the West Bank.

In Kashmir, protesters hurled rocks at police. The outrage seemed to be everywhere. In Somalia, a nun and her bodyguard were murdered, shot to death. And, from Turkey, this warning from the man who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II. "Pope Ratzinger, listen to someone who knows these things very well," he wrote. "Your life is in danger. You absolutely must not come to Turkey."

There was also a threat from al Qaeda militants linked to the terror group in Iraq, warning of a holy war against -- quote -- "worshipers of the cross," and that "God would help Muslims conquer Rome."

With the anger and unrest growing, the Vatican went into damage control.

FEDERICO LOMBARDI, VATICAN SPOKESPERSON: It was certainly not the intention of the holy father to undertake a comprehensive study of the jihad and of Muslim ideas of (INAUDIBLE) still less to offend the sensibilities of Muslim faithful.

COOPER: That was followed by this statement from the pope.

POPE BENEDICT XVI (through translator): I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.

COOPER: While the pope said he was sorry, Benedict only apologized for the reaction to his speech. He has not once backed down from his beliefs, never expressing remorse or regret for what he said about faith and violence.

As he arrives in Turkey, his first trip to a Muslim country, many will be listening to the pope to see if his message about Christianity and Islam is the same. Will he focus on what the two religions have in common or continue to concentrate on what drives them apart?


COOPER: And that really is the question. Has Benedict opened a dialogue or new wounds that may only lead to more violence? We may have a better idea now that Benedict has wound up his trip.

CNN's Delia Gallagher reports.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH AND VALUES CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Judging by the crowds that came out on Sunday to protest Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Turkey, you might have expected the worst. Thousands lined the streets, carrying signs and shouting, "Pope, go home."

And it was clear the Turks were prepared for the worst, with riot police out in force, security a big concern for this mostly Muslim country, still smarting from the pope's remarks about Islam two months ago.

Even Turkey's prime minister said he would not be there to greet the pontiff. But, when the pope's plane touched down in Ankara on Tuesday, a group of dignitaries, including the prime minister, was there to welcome him. There were no crowds of the faithful, and no protesters either.

That afternoon, he met with one of his harshest critics, the head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Office, who reminded the pope of his controversial remarks, saying, "The so-called notion that Islam was spread by the sword and a growing Islamophobia hurt all Muslims."

And the pope held his line on religious freedom...

POPE BENEDICT XVI: ... authentic dialogue...

GALLAGHER: ... telling the Turkish government that freedom must be guaranteed to believers, no matter what their faiths.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: As believers...

GALLAGHER: It seemed the religious world hung on his every word, but the streets remained silent, and Turks seemed pleased that the man they call papa had come to their country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is one of the keys who can manage or who can get good relations between two religions.

GALLAGHER: On Wednesday, Benedict's journey took a more sacred turn, when he visited a small stone house near Ephesus, said to be the final home of the Virgin Mary. There, he said mass for about 250 of the country's 35,000 Catholics.

From there, it was off to Istanbul, where, on Thursday, he met with the man who invited him to Turkey, the Orthodox patriarch, Bartholomew.

The pope attended an Orthodox liturgy celebrated the patriarch, and then he talked about the need for these two churches, long divided, to work together.

At night, the pope paid a visit to one of the most important symbols of Turkey's history, the Haghia Sophia, once a church, then a mosque, now a museum that shows extraordinary icons from both religions, one of the most famous buildings on Istanbul's skyline.

Changing his plan just a bit, the pope toured the Blue Mosque, Turkey's most famous, accepting an invitation from its grand mufti. On his final day in Turkey, the pope celebrated another mass, this one for Istanbul's small Catholic community.

Then, he headed back to the Vatican. This controversial visit, one he dedicated to reconciliation, had come to an end without conflict.

Whether it changed the minds of Muslims, or whether it took a step towards joining two divided Christian churches, is a story that is yet to unfold.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, Istanbul.


COOPER: One of the pope's major themes here has been freedom of religion. He believes the right to practice what you believe in is essential, no matter the faith and no matter the country.


COOPER (voice-over): Pope Benedict XVI says he's anxious to open a dialogue with the followers of Islam, but he says those talks must include one very important topic, what the Vatican calls reciprocity.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: The idea is that religious minorities in majority Muslim states ought to get the same rights and same freedoms that religious minorities, including Muslims, get in the West.

COOPER: Before he became Pope Benedict, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spent 24 years as the Vatican's tough theological enforcer, a man who interpreted the rules by which Catholicism could operate.

Even then, his relationship with the Muslim community was seen as contentious, in part because of his insistence on reciprocity.

The concept comes down to this: If you can build a mosque in any non-Muslim nation, why can't you build a Christian church, or a Jewish synagogue, for that matter, in a mostly Muslim country?

In the 1990s, the Saudi government kicked in the bulk of $25 million raised to build the biggest mosque in Europe. It was built in the Catholic enclave of Rome, with the encouragement of Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Benedict believes it's now time for fair play.

ALLEN: Christians in Saudi Arabia ought to be able to build churches; they ought to be able to import bibles and catechisms; they ought to be able to celebrate their faith openly, all of which is presently prohibited by Saudi law.

COOPER: Benedict insists, reciprocity would benefit Muslims, as well as Christians, as some Muslim sects suffer discrimination at the hands of Islamic governments headed by members of rival sects.

ALLEN: In Saudi Arabia, of course, it's non-Wahabi forms of Islam that can't be celebrated. In -- in Iran, often, it is Sunni Islam that struggles, and on and on. So, the point, basically, is to press Islamic governments to recognize pluralism, and to recognize the right of people to believe and to celebrate their creed as they choose.

COOPER: But many Muslims would say, it's not the pope's place to define the rules of their religion.

REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, "NO GOD BUT GOD: THE ORIGINS, EVOLUTION, AND FUTURE OF ISLAM": What the pope is talking about, when he talks about reciprocity, is that there needs to be far greater emphasis on religious rights in some Muslim countries. But to make the kind of generalization that, somehow, the Islamic world doesn't allow the propagation of Christianity or the construction of Christian churches or Jewish synagogues is just simply incorrect.

ALLEN: This is about recognizing the inherent dignity of each and every human person to believe and to worship as he or she sees fit.

COOPER: A point that may prove to be a hard sell in this country where the secular government leads a population that's some 99 percent Muslim.


COOPER: With me now are faith and values correspondent Delia Gallagher and Reza Aslan of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and author of "No god But God."

Talk about reciprocity. How important is it for this pope?

GALLAGHER: Well, reciprocity is just the -- the idea of religious freedom, and religious freedom in every country around the world for all religions.

And, so, it's something that the Vatican, not only this pope, but John Paul II spoke about quite a lot, that, if, in Europe, Muslims are free to worship as they want, and to have mosques and so on, that that should be the same case in Islamic countries for Christians and for other religions.

COOPER: There -- there was a lot of concern before the pope made this trip here about the reaction in the Muslim world. How do you think it's gone?

ASLAN: Well, I think the pope has done everything that he needed to do and everything that he needed to say in order to defuse some of those concerns.

And -- and I think, really, if you look at the reaction of Turks, you see that, for the most part, the Turks here, the Muslims in -- in this country, have accepted the pope's apologies, have decided that it is time to move on, and -- and to -- and to rebuild some of those bridges, and perhaps get to the nuts and bolts of this interfaith dialogue.

And that's good, because that's exactly what the pope wants to do, too.

COOPER: Well, what -- what does that dialogue really mean? I mean, it's -- it's really a diplomatic word. It -- it sounds nice. But, in reality, how do you have a dialogue, because there are real differences between the faiths?

GALLAGHER: That's right. That's exactly what Pope Benedict says.

He -- he believes that dialogue is useless, unless you're really talking about the real differences. And, of course, that has gotten him into trouble a little bit, because, when he tries to point out some of the differences, and at least raise them as a question, we saw, you know, the reaction from the Regensburg address.

But I think that that is his key point, that, you know: Look, these are going to be some difficult questions. Maybe I'm wrong about some of them, but this is what I think needs to be discussed. That, to him, is real dialogue.

ASLAN: And interesting -- interestingly enough, in a -- in a sense, what -- what -- the positive stuff that came out of Regensburg is that it did create precisely that sense of dialogue that the pope was hoping for.

There were 38 scholars, representing every sect and schism in Islam, who wrote him a very long, theologically complicated argument, just the kind of stuff that a pope like this loves to talk about. So, maybe this is the beginning of -- of that opening that he was hoping for.

And I think, if the pope continues to push for issues like religious freedoms, and reciprocity, and -- and greater dialogue between peoples of different faith, for a particular purpose, then, you're going to, hopefully one day, see that this -- this pope's really going to make a real difference.

COOPER: One of the things, though, this pope has said, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, about the difficulty of dialogue with the -- the Muslim world is that there is no central Islamic authority. There is no pope in -- in the -- in -- in Islam. It's different groups who you are having a dialogue with, and that makes any kind of real dialogue all the more difficult.

ASLAN: It does.

And, actually, that's a very sophisticated statement on the pope's part, because it's a recognition that the only way to really get to the core of the things that bring Muslims and Christians together is to make sure you're careful about who you talk to and who you don't talk to, and, more importantly, to put the great worldwide influence and power, and even resources of Catholicism and of the pope, behind those voices of moderation in the Muslim world, who are struggling to fight the voices of extremism, and really not doing that good of a job so far.

COOPER: And -- and is there that debate going on within the Muslim world? I mean...

ASLAN: Unquestionably. I mean...


COOPER: You say -- well, all over the Muslim world?

ASLAN: Well, in certain places, like Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and -- and Afghanistan, those places which the pope has actually highlighted as -- as Muslim countries that don't give Christians certain rights and freedoms, we have to remember that those are countries that don't give even Muslims certain rights and freedoms. I mean, they're just countries that don't have the same political or religious development.

But, if you look at the -- the larger picture, and the fact that the vast majority of the world's 1.2 billion, 1.3 billion Muslims live outside of the Middle East, and, indeed, live outside of the Arab world, in those countries, there is a robust debate taking place.

And, especially, that debate is taking place in Europe. And I think this pope now has an opportunity, since he was seen in this very Eurocentric and maybe even anti-Islamic stance in Europe, to now fully engage the question of Islam in Europe as a part of Europe's future, not as a fifth column.

COOPER: Certainly, in terms of style, Delia, this is a very different pope than Pope John Paul II.

GALLAGHER: Yes. And I think that that's one of his problems, in a way, because he's constantly being compared to the very charismatic John Paul II, who had no problem taking up any issue, and putting it in such terms that you agreed with him.

And, so, this is a much more intellectual, academic, cerebral type of pope. We know that. And, yet, I think that he has the ability, in a personal, one-on-one encounter, to -- to make himself understood, and to be that kind of more affectionate pope that John Paul II was. He just haven't it yet on the world stage.

ASLAN: Anderson, I think this could be the strength of this pope in a -- in a very strange way, because, while the pope is never going to be able to reach out to those individuals, those jihadists, those extremists, they're not worth talking to. They have no interest in talking.

But, if he truly wants to reach out to the clerical institutions, to the ulema, to the imams of the Muslim world, that's how they talk. They talk in a very deeply theological, philosophical, legalistic way. And, in a way, this might be the perfect pope for someone like them, because they're more than happy to sit down and -- and talk about the -- the minutia and the nuances of -- of heavy theology and where those theologies match, and where they don't match.

COOPER: Interesting.

Reza, thanks. Delia, thanks. We will talk to you a little bit later on in this hour.

Turkey, this country where we are, is where East meets West. One part, of course, is modern, the other ancient. And we're going to break it down for you.

"When Faiths Collide," a special edition of 360, continues.


COOPER: Welcome back.

Tonight, we're taking a close look at the pope in Turkey, his first ever journey to a Muslim nation. It is perhaps the oldest cliche there is, but it is still very true. Turkey is a country of contrasts. They are stark and, in some ways, unsettling.

This nation of 70 million is moderate and modern on one hand, and extreme and ancient on the other.

With a look at these two very different sides, once again, here's CNN's Delia Gallagher.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): It is a country of contrasts, divided between two continents -- on one shore, Europe, on the other, Asia -- where ancient structures mix with skyscrapers, where a deep belief in Islam infuses a decidedly secular society, one country that feels like two different worlds.

But you need only look to Turkey's most famous city, Istanbul, to see how steeped in religious history this country is. Once called Constantinople, it was the center of the Byzantine Empire. It was conquered by the Muslim Ottomans in the 15th century. Churches were turned into mosques, religious iconography covered over.

In the 1920s, another seismic event: A military commander named Mustafa Kemal Ataturk declared Turkey a republic, a secular republic.

ASLAN: That sense that we're not just Muslim, but we're also Turks, and perhaps even Turks first, that, yes, we do belong to this worldwide community of faith, but that doesn't mean we have to discard our -- our deeply nationalistic identity as Turks.

GALLAGHER: Modern Turks worship in their own way.

ATIL KUTOGLU, DESIGNER: I went to the mosque a few times with my father, but it was always between in the family, and I was told by my mother, told to pray before going to bed to thank the God, and that was it.

GALLAGHER: Atil Kutoglu is a typical modern-day Turk. He's a successful fashion designer, comes from Istanbul, and shows in New York. He's a Muslim, but, first and foremost, he is a Turk.

KUTOGLU: I feel always, it is a -- a great privilege, as a fashion designer, to be able to -- to take inspiration from such a great culture and history.

GALLAGHER: The same can be said for Volcan Erson, the lead dancer with the Turkish Ballet.

VOLCAN ERSON, TURKISH BALLET (through translator): I'm a Muslim. I'm also a ballet dancer and an artist. But artists do not seek to smother religion. I see no contradiction between art and religion.

GALLAGHER (on camera): When most people think of Turkey, this is what they picture, a bustling bazaar filled with all kinds of traditional Turkish goods, from carpets to pashminas, ceramics to tea sets. And this is the grand bazaar, Turkey's oldest marketplace, dating back some 500 years. Turks call it the world's first mall.

But, today, it's mainly a place for tourists. The new face of commerce in Turkey is one you might find much more familiar.

(voice-over): This is the Kanyon Mall, with 26 floors of office space, 179 apartments, and more than 160 upscale shops. It is the face of modern Turkey, looking westward.

But it's not the only face of Turkey. There's the blinding poverty of slums that ring Ankara and other cities, as well as very conservative rural areas.

ASLAN: When you have these kinds of populations that feel economically or socially or even politically alienated from their own communities, that really becomes a breeding ground for the kinds of extremism that we see in other poor places, like in Gaza or in Afghanistan or in southern Pakistan.

GALLAGHER: But, for now, the future meets the past. Young and old worship together in the Blue Mosque. The Haghia Sophia displays its remnants of both the Byzantine and Ottoman past. Faith and commerce coincide.

And Turkey's story remains a well-told tale of two countries.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, Istanbul, Turkey.


COOPER: Religion is part of the reason that Turkey feels like two different countries. Up next, we're going to look at the centuries-old conflict between Christians and Muslims. What are religious leaders doing to ease the tensions?

We will have that -- when this special edition of 360 continues.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello. I'm Tom Foreman in Washington.

In a moment, more of our special edition of 360, "When Faiths Collide: The Pope in Turkey" -- but, first, a 360 "Bulletin."

There's a wintry mess across the Plains and the Midwest, and it's moved into Canada, too. More than a foot of snow has fallen in several towns. At least three people have been killed. And more than two million homes and businesses are without power.

In the Philippines, a deadly mudslide -- nearly 200 people killed, 260 others missing, after a rush of mud flattened homes and uprooted trees along the slopes of the Mayon volcano. Ash and boulders as big as cars have been building up there since the volcano erupted in July. It all came crashing down when a typhoon hit this week with winds up to 165 miles an hour. And now it turns out that the wife of the former Russian spy killed by poison is also showing signs of radiation exposure. A friend of Alexander Litvinenko's family says the wife isn't in the hospital, because the level of contamination isn't serious. An Italian man Litvinenko met on the day he fell ill has also tested positive.

For the latest on the investigation, don't miss a special edition of 360, "Poison Plot: The Killing of a Spy." That's Monday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

More of "When Faiths Collide" -- coming up.


COOPER: Welcome back to "When Faiths Collide: The Pope in Turkey."

Less than 100,000 Christians actually call Turkey home. Muslims make up 99.8 percent of the population. The numbers are vastly different. Their religions, though, are not. Islam and Christianity are bound together by history and times of both peace and bloodshed.

CNN's Randi Kaye takes a look.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Islam and Christianity, both with roots back to Abraham, have long been considered sister religions.

INGRID MATTSON, PROFESSOR OF ISLAMIC STUDIES AND CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM RELATIONS, HARTFORD SEMINARY: Sibling rivalry occurs among world religions as much as it does among individuals.

KAYE: Which may explain why, for more than 1,400 years, Muslims and Christians have been caught up in conflict. Long before 9/11 and this Iraq War, the first Gulf War, in 1991, sharpened tensions between radical Islam and the West. The presence of U.S. and other Western forces on soil holy to Muslims gave birth to al Qaeda.

REV. RAYMOND HELMICK, BOSTON COLLEGE DEPARTMENT OF THEOLOGY: When you come to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, the principal offense that they take with the United States and more generally with the west, very particularly with the United States, is that presence out there in the Saudi Desert of American military.

INGRID MATTSON, HARTFORD SEMINARY: The way it was perceived by Muslims throughout the world was an attempt by western powers to take over the heartland of Islam.

KAYE (on camera): History books show the conflict between Christianity and Islam begun as early as the 7th Century, when a Muslim army conquered all of North Africa before invading Christian Spain. Muslim forces also conquered huge areas of the Middle East, including some Christian holy land. In response came the crusades. And in Spain, Christians eventually drove out the Muslims in the Reconquista.

MATTSON: The Reconquista showed a very violent phase of Catholicism, violent, first and foremost, against other Christians but then also against Muslims and Jews, as well.

KAYE (voice-over): In most every Muslim/Christian conflict, territory was inextricably tied to faith.

By the year 1095, the Christian crusades were underway. The Christians seized Jerusalem and then Constantinople.

HELMICK: They captured Jerusalem. They killed everyone there, killed the Muslim population, killed the Jews who were there, even killed the Christians who were there, because they were Arab. It was carried out with massacres of Muslim people anywhere they went.

KAYE: But even in the midst of violence there have been moments of harmony, the sharing of traditions like art and architecture.

MATTSON: We can still find hopeful stories, and we need to turn to those to try to build a better future together.

KAYE: A future where sisters, even of the religious kind, can find a way to put centuries of squabbling behind them.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Another part of Turkey's story, al Qaeda leaving its mark. Coordinated blasts, dozens killed. Coming up, Muslim extremists seeking an Islamic state right here in secular Turkey. Could it happen? When the special edition of 360 continues.


COOPER: Welcome back to our special on Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Turkey. This country has been a secular state since the 1920s, and it wants to join the European Union.

But as in other democracies, there are extremists who have a very different idea of where their nation should be heading. And those extremists now include members of al Qaeda.


COOPER (voice-over): November 20, 2003, two suicide blasts minutes apart rock Istanbul. The targets: the British consulate and a London based bank headquarters.

One week earlier, suicide attacks are launched against two Istanbul synagogues. In total 52 people are killed, more than 400 wounded. The attacks had all the hallmarks and have been attributed to al Qaeda: coordinated blasts targeting symbols of the west and Israel, a sign to many that extremists in Turkey were on the rise. More than 50 suspects are now on trial for the bombings.

"They fight for their beliefs," he says. "And America and the west are fighting against Islam."

Osman Karahan is an attorney for some of the alleged terrorists. He himself has been suspected of aiding terrorists by the Turkish government, an accusation he denies. But he does believe suicide bombings are permitted by the Koran and insists Osama bin Laden is a freedom fighter.

"All holy warriors are seen as freedom fighters," he says. "And they're supported all around the world."

Karahan (ph) follows a radical and undeniably extreme form of Islam. Many pictures of people in his office have Post-It notes covering their faces. When we talked, a translator, a woman, had to sit behind a screen so as not to be seen by Karahan (ph). Throughout the interview he wore a pistol strapped to his waist.

He condemns any Muslim who doesn't agree with his interpretation of the Koran.

"We believe that a Muslim who accepts a secular governing system becomes an unbeliever and stays in hell forever," he says. "It's not acceptable for us, and also, it's not enough to deny it. It's necessary to work for the creation of an Islamic state."

It's not likely Turkey will become an Islamic state like Afghanistan under the Taliban. Support for a moderate form of Islam is strong here, and the economy is booming.

But according to author and professor Reza Aslan, there is cause for concern.

REZA ASLAN, PROFESSOR, USC: If Turkey doesn't begin to really reconcile its relationship with Europe and if Europe doesn't do a better job of making Turkey feel like it has a role to play in the continent, then there is a fear that maybe five, six, seven years from now we may be talking about a larger number of extremists, a larger group of jihadists here.


COOPER: In today's Turkey many Asian customs still exist. Up next we're going to talk to women who fear for their lives, all because of a brutal ritual known as honor killings. A special edition of 360 "When Faiths Collide", continues.


COOPER: Welcome back to "When Faiths Collide" from Istanbul, Turkey. Our next story is frankly chilling. Turkish women living in the 21st Century, right here, now, but victimized by an ancient tradition.

Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): A mother and father point to their daughter's wedding picture. This marriage, they say, cost her her life. Their daughter, Marjan (ph), committed suicide, trapped in a marriage she felt she couldn't leave, trapped by a culture in which some women are killed for wanting a divorce.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): She and her sister always talked about life. She told her sister she didn't like her mother in law.

When I went to see her after the wedding, she was upset. I asked her how she was doing, but she said she was OK. We wanted to take her back from her husband, but then we learned she died.

COOPER: In Turkey's poor conservative southeast, if a woman is accused of shaming her husband's family by asking for a divorce, committing adultery, or even being raped, she risks being murdered. It's called an honor killing, a centuries old tradition designed to restore a family's honor.

Today some women are still being killed or pressured into committing suicide. All these women are victims. They won't show their faces on camera because they still fear retribution from their husband's families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I went to Istanbul to get a divorce, but I was afraid to come back here because I'd have the same problems. My family here said, if I got a divorce, they would kill me. I tried to kill myself by overdosing on vitamins.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): During my marriage, I was stepped on and pushed around, abused by everyone. I told my family, but they said, "You chose it. It's your problem." So I took pills to try and kill myself.

COOPER: Suicide rates have sky-rocketed in this part of Turkey, and in June the United Nations sent a special envoy to investigate. The U.N. concluded that, while many of the deaths were suicides, some were honor killings disguised as a suicide or an accident.

Eager to modernize and join the European Union, Turkey has recently changed its laws, mandating life sentences for men convicted of honor killings. But traditions diehard, and many men here still believe honor killings are justified.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are bound by the rules. If a woman runs away, she must be killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Good name is more important than the penalty. We don't care about the penalty. A good name is the most important thing in our world.

JULIA KRITTIAN, JOURNALIST: Most of the times it's nothing that the woman does willingly that stains the honor.

COOPER: Julia Krittian is a German journalist who's reported on honor killings.

KRITTIAN: There are all these histories of women being raped by their brothers or their fathers. It's always the fault of the women, never the fault of the man. And the woman is the one who has to bear the consequences.

COOPER: For Marjan's (ph) mother and father, the consequences of her death are deeply felt. Their daughter is gone, the pain still lingers, and this photo is just about all they have to remember her by.


COOPER: Coming up a Christian shrine in a Muslim country that's become a place of pilgrimage for both faiths when this special edition of 360, "When Faiths Collide: The Pope in Turkey", continues.


COOPER: One of the things Muslims and Catholics have in common is the Virgin Mary. A shrine to the Virgin in a predominantly Muslim land has become the place for people of both faiths to gather and pray.

CNN's Delia Gallagher reports.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pilgrims come from around the world to look, to light candles, to pray, and sometimes to make a wish.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wish for happiness; we wish the child, the health of the child for us; and to be happy together.

GALLAGHER: This tiny stone cottage, tucked away in the hills of Ephesus, is where Pope Benedict XVI chose to say mass to a small crowd on his visit to Turkey. Just 250 of the country's 35,000 Catholics. It is considered to be one of the holiest sits for Catholics, believed by some to be the last home of the Virgin Mary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's Mary's house. This is where Mary died and went to heaven, so that's why I'm here.

GALLAGHER: Though many believe Mary died in Jerusalem, it is said that a German nun wrote down her vision of a stone house where Saint John the Evangelist brought Mary after the crucifixion of Jesus.

In 1891 a group of priests decided to investigate what she wrote, and they came upon this place. Since then, millions of faithful have been drawn to this beautiful place for many different reasons.

MARINA BANDIRMA, PILGRIM: Peace, tranquility, and the beauty of the place. I'm Catholic, and I feel that this is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

GALLAGHER: But this may surprise you. It's not only Catholics who come here to pray to the Virgin Mary. Muslims come, too. They say the Virgin Mary, as the mother of Jesus, has a special place in their faith, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Muslim religion we had some positions like prophets. Mohammed is the first for us. And Jesus, also, as Mohammed in our mind. For that reason we are visiting here like Mecca.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe the Virgin Mary is for everybody. This human together live in the same world, and we're living the same way in this world. The Virgin Mary is a symbol for everybody. We are Muslim. My wife is Christian, but we believe that we have to be together in this world.

GALLAGHER: Many of those who come here call it a holy place, and maybe it is. Just three months ago a fire burned through the forest that surrounds the house but stopped just yards from its walls. While so much was destroyed, Mary's house was untouched.

And so believers of all faiths still come to wash in the waters that are said to be blessed. They pin their prayers and their intentions to a wall. They walk through the woods, and inside the tiny church they light candles and kneel in prayer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is very important for me. Because she's in my heart always.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not important what religion you believe. It's not important what race you are. It's important what is in your heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife is a Christian though I'm a Hindu. We worship (ph) in a church or in a Hindu temple. I worship in the same spirit with the same faith, and all the time whenever I worship most of the dreams have come true.


COOPER: And joining us now are Delia Gallagher and Reza Aslan of USC and also the author of the book, "No God but God".

The significance of that shrine really is that this is a place where Muslims and Christians can go both.

GALLAGHER: Yes, well, in the first instance it's the place for Christians that they say the Virgin Mary lived after Jesus' crucifixion. I don't think a lot of Christians even knew about that, because I certainly didn't.

And it has become a place of pilgrimage for both Christians and Muslims, because Muslims also believe that Mary was the mother of Jesus and they recognize Jesus as a prophet. So it's become this kind of interfaith shrine in an interesting way and certainly, a very important historic place for Christians.

COOPER: One of the things -- one of the problems, I think, of the way Islam is seen in the west, certainly, or at least in the media, is that it's painted with a very broad brush. Or some critics would even say by our government, painted with a very broad brush.

So we sort of see all these groups as monolithic. Turkey really is an example of -- of the differences that exist within the Muslim world.

ASLAN: Absolutely. And I think it's a better example of a universal phenomenon when it comes to religions. And that is too often we talk about what is sometimes referred to as high religion. Issues of theology, issues of doctrinal differences.

But when you get to the ground, when you see Muslims and Christians and Jews and Hindus living side by side in apartments, going to shared pilgrimage sites, I mean, that I think, is where religion really expresses itself.

Most people of faith are far too concerned with just living good and moral lives and raising their children correctly and making a living and feeding their families to really embroil themselves in what we in the West and particularly in the media are so narrowly focused on, and that is religious conflict and doctrinal conflict. So Turkey, I think, again is the perfect backdrop to that.

COOPER: And yet, I mean, extremism is very real, is a very real threat. I mean, we've seen it even here in secular Turkey. What is it that the jihadists, the extremists in the Muslim world want? Because I mean, they're very good at talking about what they hate, what they're attacking, but what are they actually for?

ASLAN: You know, it's no coincidence that that is a question that most people have on their minds. Because it's hard to actually describe what it is that jihadists want.

Fundamentalism in all religions -- Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam -- is primarily a reactionary ideology. It is not an independent ideology. It needs something to resist against, to react against.

In Turkey that happens to be secularism. But there are plenty of other issues too: Palestine, the war on terror, the war in Iraq. Those things were always going to be there, and as long as people feel left behind, as long as they feel religiously or politically or economically or socially alienated from their societies, they're always going to have a ready made language available to them. This very notion of religion that tells them who the enemy is, who are the good guys.

And really, this is kind of a product of the modern world. We'll never be free of fundamentalism. We'll never be free of extremism or jihadism. The important thing is to not confuse the loudest voice with the majority voice.

GALLAGHER: And I think the pope on Tuesday in Turkey, you know, was saying we have a lot in common, Muslims and Christians. And your average Muslim and your average Christian do have a lot in common and that that, in itself, is working against kind of an extremist version of religion.

Because his whole idea here is to say people of faith, people who believe, you know, should be united in that belief in God, versus any kind of extremism. He would be against all of that.

COOPER: Delia, appreciate it.

And Reza Aslan, thank you very much. Great coverage, as well.

It's been a fascinating week. Thanks for joining us tonight for this special report on the pope in Turkey. We hope over the last hour you learned something new about his mission and about this country, a country that really stands between two worlds.

For Benedict XVI, the journey was historic, visiting a Muslim state for the first time. While he talked to brotherhood, he's not backed away from his beliefs, and only time will tell if his words lead to a better understanding among the two religions or not.

Reporting from Istanbul, I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching. Good night.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Tom Foreman in Washington. In a moment, "Where Have All the Parents Gone", a Christiane Amanpour special report. First, a "360 Bulletin".

It's the closest thing yet to a timeline in Iraq. Today the top U.S. commander there said that four Iraqi army divisions in the country's northern region will be under Baghdad's control by next March. In a report due out next week, the Iraq Study Group is expected to recommend withdrawing nearly all U.S. combat forces from Iraq by early 2008.

The season's first major snowstorm battered the plains and Midwest today, knocking out power to more than two million homes and businesses. A plane slid off of a runway at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, and hundreds of other flights were canceled. At least three deaths were blamed on the weather.

In the Philippines, where a typhoon triggered a massive mudslide, daybreak confirmed the worst: a wide swath of destruction. Nearly 200 people dead, more than 200 missing. The storm blasted ashore yesterday with winds of up to 165 miles per hour. That's as strong as a Category 5 hurricane.

Those are the headlines. "Where Have All the Parents Gone?" starts right now.


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