Visiting a crossroad of world religions, Hillary Rodham Clinton urged people of all faiths Thursday to be more tolerant and “stand against those who would use and misuse religion.”
With symbols and words, the first lady tried to bridge the gaps between religious groups in this mostly Muslim country with ancient ties to Christianity.
Gathering heads of Christian, Muslim and Jewish churches into one stuffy room, Clinton said she came “on behalf of peace and tolerance and respect among all people.”
Her trip to Bosnia, shattered by years of ethnic bloodletting, underscored “what the failure to respect and tolerate can bring,” she said. The first lady opened her eight-day overseas tour in the former Yugoslav republic.
Accompanied by her teenage daughter, Chelsea, Clinton backed her words with a carefully designed tour of Istanbul religious sites cherished by Muslims and Christians.
Entering the 17th-century Blue Mosque, mother and daughter wore colorful scarves and soft, black slippers in keeping with Muslim tradition.
They also toured Aya Sofya museum, built in the sixth century as a Catholic basilica. For almost five centuries after the Turkish conquest in 1453, it was a Muslim mosque.
Clinton gazed in wonder at the layers of construction that revealed stunning icons of both religions.
The day wasn’t just about religion; the Clintons also visited the Topkapi Palace, the lavish home of the Ottoman sultans, their harems and courts. The pair toured the harem room and surveyed the porcelains, armor, fabrics, jewels and calligraphy in the palace’s museum.
Their visit included a look at a sparkling 86-carat diamond and the famous Topkapi dagger, solid-gold with a timepiece in its hilt.
The tour wrapped up her three-day Turkey visit. She was flying to Greece on Thursday night to deliver a speech about democracy and participate in the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony. The trip ends Sunday.