By Philip Pullella
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Sunday called on Muslim leaders to issue a global condemnation of terrorism, saying it would help to dispel the stereotype that equates Islam with terror.
Speaking to reporters aboard the plane as he returned from Turkey, where he condemned Islamic State insurgents several times, Francis said he made the suggestion in private talks on Friday with the country's president, Tayyip Erdogan.
"I told the president that it would be beautiful if all Islamic leaders, whether they are political, religious or academic leaders, would speak out clearly and condemn this, because this would help the majority of Muslim people," Francis said in answer to a reporter's question.
"But this must come from the mouths of their leaders, from religious leaders, academic leaders, intellectuals and political leaders," he said.
Catholic Church officials have urged Islamic leaders to speak out more forcefully against Islamic State, but the pope's words on the plane were his most comprehensive so far.
He called for "a global condemnation (of terrorism), including from Muslims, who have their own identity and say ‘we are not that, the Koran is not that’,”.
He said he understood how Muslims were offended by the stereotype that equates Islam with terrorism.
"They say: ‘No, we are not this, the Koran is a book of peace, it is a prophetic book of peace. This is not Islam,’" he said.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Kevin Liffey)