The pope angered Muslims worldwide in September with remarks that were seen as critical of Islam. Last week, Turkey's top Islamic cleric, Ali Bardakoglu, said the pope's first trip to a mostly Muslim nation could help calm the situation:
"There is an increased tension in the world that worries everyone, all of us," Bardakoglu said. "In such a tense situation the religious leaders and state leaders should keep the door of dialogue open. That's why we see the pope's visit to Turkey as a positive step towards developing dialogue."
Hundreds of thousands of Turks are expected to attend protest rallies during the German-born pope's four-day visit, which begins on November 28.