Turkish actress attacked for interpreting for pope

Serra Yilmaz said she was "accused of being a Christian" by Islamist trolls

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A leading Turkish actress said she has been subjected to a welter of insults on social media since her acting as a translator for Pope Francis during his visit to Turkey in November.

Serra Yilmaz said she was "accused of being a Christian" by Islamist trolls, who were angry at the renowned actress agreeing to interpret for Francis.

"I was accused of being a Christian just because I acted as the translator of Pope Francis," Yilmaz told university students in the western port city of Izmir, Milliyet newspaper reported Thursday.

"It is ridiculous to judge people by their beliefs.

"But many people made groundless claims like 'the Vatican hired you,' or insulted me on social media," she said.

The 60-year-old stage and screen star, who is fluent in Italian, said she had been hired by Turkish foreign ministry to work as a translator during the pope's three-day visit to Ankara and Istanbul in late November.

Yilmaz, best known overseas for her roles in Italy-based Turkish filmmaker Ferzan Ozpetek's films, regularly works as a translator for Italian-speaking dignitaries and politicians visiting Turkey.

She had also worked as a translator for Pope Benedict XVI, Francis' predecessor, when he visited Turkey in 2006.

Yilmaz had drawn the ire of conservatives in Turkey -- run by an Islamist-rooted government for more than a decade -- when she famously said in 2012 that girls with headscarves scare her and they look like "monsters".

"Won't nuns scare Serra Yilmaz, who said headscarved girls look like monsters?" a Twitter user with the handle @hamdiaydinn wrote, while another suggested "it is now clear she is a missionary".

While Turkey is run on strictly secular lines, the vast majority of its 76-million inhabitants are Muslim. Turkey's Christian community is no more than 120,000-strong, most of them Greek Orthodox or Armenian.

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