Pope Benedict XVI on Friday urged intensified dialogue with Islam, saying in a Christmas speech that 2006 will be remembered as a year marked by the danger of a clash between cultures and religions. Benedict compared the situation in the Muslim world to that faced by Christians beginning in the Enlightenment, the 18th-century movement to promote individual rights, including freedom of religion. “We Christians feel close to all those who, on the basis of their religious conviction as Muslims, commit themselves against violence,” the pope said.

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