Tuesday, May 31, 2005


"The ongoing anger of Muslim world over the unfortunate incidence of ‘desecration of Holy Koran’ at Guantanamo Bay, has created a very uncertain situation for Pakistani Christians.”

He said that on 25th May Mr. Atta Ul Haq Qasmi, a columnist had openly expressed his resentment that no Christian leader had condemned the “desecration” of the Holy Koran as reported by Newsweek."

“After the establishment of a strong and powerful Islamic Empire, this ‘treaty’ was broken by the Muslims,” he said. “The kingdom of Najran was conquered and the Christian of Najran were dislocated and rehabilitated in the areas that are in present day Iraq and Kuwait. This was the first set back in the relationship between Christian and Muslims.

“After that the conquest of the ‘Holy Land’ that was then under the domain of a weak Byzantine empire and further conquest of Muslims towards north, taking Christian dominated present day Syria. Destruction of Churches, desecration of places held Holy by the Christians. Forced conversions, broken treaties and humiliating conditions set forth by the Muslim conquers further enhanced the hatred between the two faiths. The demise of Roman Empire in North Africa (That was a Christian empire in 7th and 8th century AD) and the conquest of Spain, kept adding to the hate between Christian and Muslim world. Coming back to Roman Empire in Asia Minor and its conquest by Muslims saw all but few historical Churches under Islamic rule.

“Even today the churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation are in modern Turkey. This conquest of all holy places of Christian world and heavy taxation on Christian Pilgrims to the Holy Land resulted in ‘Crusades’ from the 10th Century AD to the 18th Century AD. Though Muslims were driven out of Spain in 1492, the Ottoman Empire gained control of Mediterranean Sea and conquered large territories in Europe.”

The Bishop stated that under the Ottoman Empire, the most prestigious church of Saint Sofia built by Constantine the Great was turned into Mosque and then a museum.

“This Church still remains in the hands of Muslim Turkey,” he continued. “The Ottoman Empire finally stated to retreat in Europe while the European Colonial rule was establishing in Africa, Asia, America and Australia. At the same time Ottoman Empire had started shrinking and most of its territories in North Africa were taken over by the European Colonial powers. The then ‘Christian Empires’, including Russia, started conquering all Muslim-ruled land including India."

Monday, May 30, 2005

Identifying Learning Qur'an with Terror Impossible

"Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan harshly reacted against interpretations ofa decrease in punishment envisioned against individuals opening educational institutions without official permission in an alteration of the new Turkish Penal Code (TCK) as a "concession for illegal Qur'an courses and terrorist organizations"."

"Erdogan said that it is a very natural right of Turkish people to learn the holy book, which is the source of their religion. "No one has the right to play with our people's sensitivities." he warned. The Prime Minister criticized Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal without mentioning his name. Erdogan said: " It is a disrespect against Muslims to misinterpret studying the Qur'an as an instrument of any terrorist organization. You cannot exploit this. It would be wrong. If you do this, this nation would not forgive you."


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Turkey’s Protestants face attacks, anti-missionary threats - (BP)

"A Protestant pastor in the Turkish industrial city of Izmit woke up May 18 to find a huge red swastika painted on his apartment door, with a handwritten hate letter shoved underneath, according to a report by Compass Direct news service.

The letter threatened the safety of Wolfgang Hade and his family unless they leave the country within a month, Compass reported. A German citizen, Hade is married to a Turkish national of Christian background.

The hate letter questioned whether Hade is really serving Christianity or being “used” to attack Turkish values.

“Your efforts to wear us down -- as the inheritors of a great race -- and alienate us from our values will come to nothing,” the writer declared. “Please forward this to the headquarters directing you.”

"The string of Izmit attacks are not isolated cases, according to Compass. Over the past six months, vigilante groups in at least four other Turkish cities also have threatened Protestant church workers and attacked their places of worship.

Simultaneously, the Turkish media has fanned intense criticism of Christian missionary activity, Compass reported. Even government ministers have spoken out, claiming that foreign missionaries had political motives aimed at damaging the social peace and unity of Turkey.

A government-approved sermon read in Turkey’s mosques at Friday prayers on March 11 specifically warned worshipers against Christian missionaries, accusing them of pursuing political agendas to “deceive and convert” people, Compass reported.

Despite the democratic image presented by Turkey’s current government in its drive to enter the European Union, “Their comments have simply added fuel to the nationalist fire,” Ihsan Ozbek, an Ankara pastor chairing the Alliance of Protestant Churches in Turkey, told Compass."

"Meanwhile, a Turkish Christian living in Istanbul’s Maltepe district told Compass he has been threatened twice in the past year to stop hosting fellowship meetings in his home. In the most recent letter, attached to the window bars of his ground-floor flat two months ago, he was told, “This is a Muslim country,” and he was urged to leave. If he loved his family, the letter advised, he should resettle in a Christian country.

“I don’t know how much of a real threat this is,” he admitted. “I’m not afraid of people’s reactions, but I am afraid of threats against my family.” He said he never reported the incidents to the police because his brother had been told by a policeman that the authorities were “secretly watching” his group."

"None of the attacks against Protestants have received coverage in the national press, in part because local Christians admit they are reluctant to be identified and harassed even further.

“But if there is no response to these incidents of violence and to the youths doing it, they will just continue,” Isa Karatas, press spokesman for the Alliance of Protestant Churches, told Compass. “It’s necessary to bring it up as an issue,” he said, particularly since officials in the local governor’s office and police force can often identify the troublemakers involved.

Turkey’s miniscule Protestant community consists of an estimated 3,500 Christians gathering in 55 designated places of worship, along with 40 other known house fellowships."
Turkey’s Protestants face attacks, anti-missionary threats - (BP)

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Christian Pastor Attacked in Turkey as Country Seeks Religious Tolerance

"Turkey has made many improvements to increase religious tolerance and freedom over the past year, however it has been reported that Protestant pastor Wolfgang Hade serving in Izmit has recently received threats against him and his family, reported Compass Direct.

In a handwritten letter he was accused of not serving Christianity, but being used to attack traditional Turkish values.

Pastor Hade lived in Izmit with his family for 3 and half years and led a small congregation of 15-20 Turkish Protestants.

This was not for the first time his church had been attacked - last year the night after Christmas an attacker set fire to the church.

"The aim was to burn the church down," Hade told Compass Direct. "There were black signs of burning and the window was partly broken, but the debris had been swept away."

In addition, on three separate occasions since, church windows have been broken and smashed.

These attacks are not the only cases of violence targeting at Christians. During the past six months, there have been similar attacks in at least four other Turkish cities.

The situation also has been reported by some as actually getting worse. Reports have been seen that state that media in the country have began a campaign against Christian missionary activities.

The government also allegedly commented on the work of missionaries as politically motivated, and during prayers on Friday in mosques, worshipers were warned that Christian missionaries "deceive and convert" people.

However, as Turkey attempts to join the European Union, the government has give much effort towards projecting an image of a democratic country.

In the capital Ankara another attack against the International Protestant church happened in April. As the leader of English speaking congregation said, a warning email was received several weeks before the attack.

These are not the only accidents, however, and the incidents are not being covered well by the country's media, since victims of these violations are reluctant to be identified as it may fan the situation even more."
Christian Today > Christian Pastor Attacked in Turkey as Country Seeks Religious Tolerance

Friday, May 20, 2005

Continue to pray for believers in the Marmara region. Just last month, 3 new believers were baptized in the Marmara Sea. It was a little chilly, but the fellowship and community was great! Posted by Hello

Monday, May 16, 2005

Turkish PM on xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism

"Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated today (Monday) that xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, pre-conceived notions against certain religions and IDs, as well as followers of radical religious ideas always exist. "These illnesses now include enmity towards Islam," stressed Erdogan."

"According to Erdogan, terrorism today kills innocent individuals and is taking place every where. "Terror hits without making discrimination among regions, religions and ethnicity. The fight against terrorism requires strong international cooperation. Drug and human trafficking, corruption and environment have become global problems," commented Erdogan.

Prime Minister Erdogan expressed that, after September 11, certain circles began to define terrorism within the boundaries of a certain religion and culture. "I want to emphasize the point that terrorism has no religion, culture, ethnicity or nationality. There is no religion on earth that tolerates killing individuals. September 11 resulted in wrong evaluations. I am pleased to see that logic has won the battle against terrorism and further gap between civilizations avoided," remarked Erdogan."

"Erdogan stated that, in the past two years, comprehensive reforms have been made in Turkey in the areas of personal freedoms and transparency. "We are aware of the fact that there is still a lot that Turkey must do. Our experiences show that, a country with a pre-dominantly Muslim population, can reach global standards of democracy by staying loyal to its traditions and moral values. The concepts of justice, equality, accountability, consultations, respect for individual and moral values are all concepts present in hundreds of years of Turkish culture," added Erdogan."
Turks.US - Turkish PM on xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Turkey tourism booms

"Turkey’s recent achievements in the field of tourism have made her a star in this highly competitive industry, not only in this important region, but also in the international tourism market.

A good indicator of Turkey’s growing reputation as a tourism destination is the phenomenal average annual growth of its tourism sector. Tourism in Turkey has grown at an average of 11% in the last decade, a figure that substantially exceeds the world average and the European average as well."

"Hotel facilities have multiplied to keep up with this great surge in the number of tourists visiting Turkey. Hotels licensed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism have a collective capacity of over 430,000 beds. With an additional capacity of 250,000 beds expected to be added by licensed establishments that are coming up in the near future, the total capacity will rise to 680,000 beds. In addition to this, licenced yachting enterprises account for a total of 10,000 beds."

"As a multi-faceted destination, Turkey offers an extremely interesting mixture of attractions that will fascinate any tourist. Given the growing demands for more exotic vacations and destinations, Turkey offers the best of the East and the West, presenting a rich mixture of the ancient and the modern."

"Turkey has been witness to innumerable events of historic and international importance. This colourful country also has some of the most celebrated monuments of the three great religions. This has led to Faith Tourism becoming a significant part of tourism in Turkey."
Turkey tourism booms

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Under EU pressure, Turkey moves to improve non-Muslim property rights

"The Turkish government has drafted a bill sought by the European Union to address complaints from non-Muslim religious foundations over restrictions to their property rights, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said Tuesday.

"From time to time, there have been complaints from (non-Muslim) community foundations and EU officials... This bill aims to eradicate to a great extent those complaints," Sahin told reporters after a cabinet meeting."

"Predominantly Muslim Turkey is home to small communities of Christians, mainly Orthodox Greeks and Armenians, and Jews, most of them concentrated in Istanbul.

In an October report on Turkey's democratization progress, the EU said that non-Muslim communities "lack legal personality, face restricted property rights and interference in the management of their foundations, and are not allowed to train clergy," even though their freedom to worship was largely unhampered.

"Their existing properties are permanently at risk of being confiscated and attempts to recover property by judicial means encounter numerous obstacles," the report said."
EUbusiness - Under EU pressure, Turkey moves to improve non-Muslim property rights

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Psychological Pressure Applied Against Turkey

The Turkish government has made some meaningless gestures towards the Christians living here, like opening some churches in tourist areas.

"The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Leader Ali Isiklar has defended that the latest developments in the European Union (EU) have created difficult outcomes targeting Turkey's future."

"He said,"The Christian Western world has shown the Muslim Turkish community feelings of animosity and their thinking is more obvious today. The Sevres Treaty attempted to be used again to remove The Treaty of Lausanne. Churches have been opened across Turkey even in areas with no Christians and not just in Istanbul and Ankara."


Female Turks alienated by ban on headscarves

"Muruvvet Aktas, fired from her teaching job for wearing the Muslim headscarf, has not entered a school for years because it makes her feel very uncomfortable."

"Aktas and Bakacak fell afoul of a strict ban on headscarves in schools and other public buildings in Turkey, a secular but overwhelmingly Muslim country where a majority of women, from the prime minister's wife down, wear the garment.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has tried to ease the ban but has run into stiff opposition from Turkey's staunchly secular military and bureaucratic establishment.

Critics say Turkey's ban exceeds restrictions seen in other countries and that it violates individual freedom of expression in a country set to start European Union entry talks."

"Defenders of Turkey's headscarf ban say it is a legitimate way to counter Islamic fundamentalism, which they say wants to impose its religious symbols on society and to establish a state based on religious precepts.

They also point to a key ruling by the European Court of Human Rights last year which upheld the ban and rejected an appeal from a Turkish student barred from attending Istanbul University because her headscarf broke the official dress code."
HoustonChronicle.com - Female Turks alienated by ban on headscarves

Friday, May 06, 2005

Embracing contradiction

"Istanbul, Turkey, is a place where the East and the West collide and some Americans, like former UConn star Khalid El-Amin, go to play basketball."

"Istanbul is the place where these two worlds collide. Christian and Muslim. Europe and Asia. Modernity and antiquity. Civilizations, history and culture layered one on top of the other.

Surrounded on one side by ancient European powers like Greece to the west, Asian powerhouses like Russia and the Ukraine to the east and current powder kegs like Iran, Iraq and Syria to the south, Turkey sits on the fault line of the world.


Eighty percent of the country lies between two huge tectonic plates, making it one of the most earthquake-ridden places on earth.

It is also a place of hope for many in the world. As the East and West seemed destined toward a monumental clash of cultures, Istanbul stands as a buffer and an idea of how East and West might not only meet, but co-exist.

Despite being 95 percent Muslim, Istanbul has the flavor and attitude of a great western European city. The country is both democratic and tolerant of other cultures and beliefs. Until a recent spat with president George W. Bush over staging part of the war against Iraq in Turkey, America had no stronger ally in the Muslim world.

"We love America," said my taxi driver (the only one I've had all trip that speaks English) on the way to Sultanahmet. "Maybe too much. We want to be like Americans, but keep our heritage, too. But with the music and the movies and the basketball, it is growing hard to stop."

Mosques stand next to high rises. Women wearing veils walk along sidewalks next to girls in mini-skirts. The call to prayer rings throughout the city to the backbeat of hip-hop on the street corner. While older women weave woolen rugs splashed with azure and gold, children wearing the NBA jersey's of Mehmet Okur and Hedo Turkoglu shoot 3s in the playground.

While the sport of basketball is still struggling to gain a foothold throughout most of the Muslim world, it is thriving here.

Former UConn star and Chicago Bulls point guard Khalid El-Amin has found a home in Turkey the past two years, and he's one of the country's brightest stars.

El-Amin was the MVP of Turkish league last season, leading the league in assists and ranking in the top five in scoring."

ABC News: Ford: Embracing contradiction

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Evolution debate is over in Turkey

"Kansas taxpayers are footing the bill to bring the Istanbul resident to Topeka as one of 23 witnesses scheduled to testify this week before a subcommittee of the Kansas State School Board in its unorthodox "trial" over science teaching standards. (Fortunately, Akyol happens to be in Washington, D.C., on other business, so Kansans are paying only to bring him across the country, not all the way from Turkey.)

Born in 1972, Akyol has a master's degree in history and writes a column for a newspaper in Istanbul. He also has identified himself as a spokesman for the murky Bilim Arastirma Vakfi, a group with an innocuous-sounding name -- it means "Science Research Foundation" -- but a nasty reputation."

"There is no fight against the creationists now. They have won the war," Sayin tells the Pitch from his home in Istanbul. "In 1998, I was able to motivate six members of the Turkish Academy of Sciences to speak out against the creationist movement. Today, it's impossible to motivate anyone. They're afraid they'll be attacked by the radical Islamists and the BAV."

"It's hopeless here," Sayin says. "I've been fighting with these guys for six years, and it's come to nothing." As a result of the BAV campaign and other efforts to denounce evolution, he adds, most members of Turkey's parliament today not only discount evolution but consider it a hoax. "Now creationism is in [high school] biology books," Sayin says. "Evolution is presented [by BAV] as a conspiracy of the Jewish and American imperialists to promote new world order and fascist motives ... and the majority of the people believe it."
pitch.com | Your OFFICIAL program to the Scopes II Kansas Monkey Trial | 2005-05-05

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Missionary activities play role in creation of imaginary genocide

"Hürriyet's Özdemir İnce said the United States was on the agenda once again regarding the alleged Armenian genocide, and asked whether President George W. Bush would use the term �Armenian genocide� in any statement he may make?"

"He said Protestant missionaries especially played a key role in the creation of the imaginary genocide and added Mazıcı mentioned the American documents revealing that the missionary activities incited the Armenian rebellions first and then influenced the U.S. administration for the foundation of an Armenian state."
Turkish Daily News - From the columns

Turkey under attack

"With Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visiting Turkey, Germany's Der Tagesspiegel says the problems faced by Christians there represent a "sore point" in the country's bid for EU membership.

"There is hardly any other area in which Turkey is as far removed from the implementation of European norms as that of religious freedom," it maintains.

The paper observes that Christian minorities are at a "strong disadvantage" despite recent reforms, although it adds that the state is also trying to control Islam as much as possible.

It concludes that Turkey will have to "completely reorganise the relationship between the state and religion if it wants to join the European Union"."

BBC NEWS | Europe | European press review

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Turks' patriotism raises flags as EU talks near

"Anyone visiting Turkey in recent weeks might be forgiven for thinking the country had just gone to war or at the very least won a major soccer tournament.

Public buildings, homes, buses, taxis and private cars have been festooned with the national flag, which bears a white Islamic crescent moon and star on a red background."

"This outpouring of patriotic fervor was sparked by an incident last month in which youths tried unsuccessfully to set fire to a Turkish flag during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in the port city of Mersin.

An overreaction? Turkey's military General Staff did not think so. It issued a statement vowing to defend the nation to its "last drop of blood." Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan announced sternly that the flag was a sacred symbol for Turks.

Security officers detained the 13- and 14-year-old boys accused of setting fire to the flag, along with nine others."
HoustonChronicle.com - Turks' patriotism raises flags as EU talks near