Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Religious hate plans face protest

"Attempts to find a compromise on plans for religious hatred laws will be put to the test in a vote of MPs as critics try to strike down the proposals.

Protesters against the incitement to religious hatred laws are set to gather outside Parliament ahead of the vote."

"The government wants religious groups to have the same protection from hate crimes as racial groups."

"The proposed safeguards included ensuring nobody is found guilty of religious hate crimes unless it is proved they intended to stir up hatred.

The peers said only "threatening words" should be banned by the bill, not those which are only abusive or insulting.

Ministers are instead proposing a compromise which would mean nobody is guilty of an offence if they debate, insult or ridicule a religion - unless they intend to stir up religious hatred."

"Sikhs and Jews already have full protection from incitement because the courts regard them as distinct races. The new laws would give protection to Christians, Muslims and others."
JTW News - Religious hate plans face protest

Thirty people were enough to make some people uncomfortable! - Turkish Daily News Jan 31, 2006

An interesting story has been developing here in Turkey. About 30 women went into a mosque to pray without headscarves and it has a lot of people upset. In my mind, this kind of religious discussion is never a bad thing:

"The aspect that amazes me most about an incident in which women whose heads were uncovered were praying in the company of men is that a group of 25-30 people is enough to rock Turkey's religious world. This situation must be tied not to their strength per se but to the confusion in the minds of our religious community."

"My amazement only increased when last Friday I saw precautions being taken at some mosques.

Imagine, there were exactly 300 police put on duty at the Camlica Subasi Mosque. At the same time, proceeding on a directive from the Religious Affairs Directorate, the Istanbul mufti brought female aides in to pass out headscarves to women coming to the mosque with uncovered heads. If the same group were to come and try to pray with uncovered heads among the men, they were first to be convinced through talking not to do it, and then force was to be used."

"There is another aspect to all this, something that everyone is curious about. The views from the mosque (of women with uncovered heads praying among the men) rocked our religious world. Arguments about the finer points of religious practice began to sweep through television programs and the written press. Moreover, some people seemed gripped by an unaccountable fear.

It turns out, our religion is not all that open to change. I won't even get into arguing whether that is the intent of this group I have been discussing. I would like to touch instead on the fundamental points of this business. Our religion is practiced and interpreted differently in almost every country. I do not understand why we pull back from arguing and discussing it. I say let's argue and discuss and open up the forum to those who have a different perspective on it all. Those who say, "They have been trying to ruin our religion for the past 1,500 years; they don't have the right," are just reacting. Clearly, they are afraid of society. They act with no self confidence. Those among us who say, "The headscarf is a personal right, and no one can interfere with a personal right," seem to ignore the rights of those who wish to pray without covering their heads. If covering your head is a personal right, something of an intensely personal nature, isn't praying among men or praying with your head uncovered also a personal right?"

"Those who are against women and men praying together have always used the same argument: "If there is a woman next to me or in front of me while I am praying, it is a situation that can excite me. It is uncomfortable to have a woman leaning down and standing up or in front of you while you are praying."

What does this mean, exactly?

Doesn't it mean that your intentions are rotten to begin with if your eyes are taking in the woman next to you or in front of you in such a way? Seeing that you can't control your eyes or your breathing, doesn't it seem like you are trying to be saved from sin by covering up women and keeping them out of sight?

Said in another way, we men are ill-intentioned creatures, and in order to prevent that ill intent from bubbling up, we shut the women away, putting them "off limits." A few of the extremely religious people who showed up last Friday at the Subasi Mosque in Istanbul made threatening moves towards the female journalists present and said some interesting things. For example, there was the young man who said, "You are off limits; you are ruining my abdest [ablutions]." Nevertheless, wasn't he just displaying his own weakness?"

"Christians, failing to interpret their own religion, lived for hundreds of years in darkness, and after many years of slow reforms came to the point that they are at today. They are still searching for answers. And Jews, too, are carrying out their search in the midst of reformers and extremists."

"Turkish society's ties to religion are deep enough that it isn't afraid of reforms or missionaries, and it is not easily affected by these sorts of efforts. Let's not create bogeymen where none exist. Let's trust ourselves. And please, let's not allow these arguments to be used as political tools. Let's not turn "reform in religion" into a piece of AKP opposition. Let's not create new taboos and fears for ourselves. Let's instead enjoy the taste of stability in our country. The day we lose the comfort we enjoy now will be a day we all regret."

"There was another incident, this one at Ankara's Haji Bayram Mosque during last Friday's afternoon prayers. This incident must be dealt with from another perspective. What happened was this: The mosque was filled with males praying, and as there was no room inside for women, the women had to pray outside. When the Altindag mufti said, "Friday prayers are not obligatory for women, anyway, let them pray at home," the prime minister responded with this: "If someone is to pray outdoors, it should have been the men." This exchange underscored another reality, which is that our women are belittled. We treat them boorishly. What women must do is embrace and espouse their rights. Hasn't the time come for them to search out their rights?

While women are so strong at home, why do they lose their voices at the mosque? Why didn't they turn to the men and say, "Why don't you go outside and pray, instead of us?" Why are the mosque directors waiting on this matter? In addition, does the Religious Affairs Directorate have anything to say about all this?"
Thirty people were enough to make some people uncomfortable! - Turkish Daily News Jan 31, 2006

Foundations to Repair Community Churches

"Foundations General Directorate Restores Churches on Gokceada (Imbros).

The directorate, having so far restored many mosques and small mosques, has added Hagia Nicola Church on Cunda Island, Hagia Marina and Hagia Nicola churches on Gokceada, Yildizkoy monastery and the Catholic Church in Diyarbakir to the 2006 restoration list."

"These places of worship were managed by the foundations of these minorities. However, today, no heir remains and the management of the churches"

Monday, January 30, 2006

Sunny Days!

Just in case you didn't know, the sun is out and it is starting to melt the snow. I think we'll be free of it by the end of the week.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Snow and fog

Snow and fog
Originally uploaded by TurkeyNEWZ.
Istanbul gets slower everyday as it has been snowing for 4 days straight. This brings many challenges, but we should especially remember those with no or insufficient heat.

Snow and fog

Snow and fog
Originally uploaded by TurkeyNEWZ.
Here is another picture from a snowy Istanbul

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

SONICFLOOd and Compassion International Team up in Spring

"SONICFLOOd were drawn to international travel during the past year, in fact they visited and performed in five countries around the world, the final of which was Turkey this past December. Turkey is a country where about 99% are Muslim, frontman Rick Heil says of the unique opportunity, “Turkey has approximately 71 million people in it, of the population only 2,200 people profess to have a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Each time we played, I knew we were combating a spiritual force that had led so many astray for so long. After my short visit however, I felt that the young Church in Turkey was a strong and tenacious like a bulldog.” While in Turkey the band even made history by playing at one of the top clubs in Europe, being the first Christian concert at a secular venue in modern Turkish history.

Guitarist Trey Hill says of the people, “We were touched by stories of their trials and triumphs, and how the people of the country are responsing [in a positive way] to the Gospel…it inspired me to encourage my fellow Christians in the US to unite.”

SONICFLOOd are using the footage they taped of the people in Turkey for their new music video, “This Generation” as they go on tour with Compassion International this spring traveling around Europe."

Soul Shine Magazine : SONICFLOOd and Compassion International Team up in Spring

Monday, January 23, 2006

President of Cyprus accuses Turkey of destroying churches

"President of Cyprus Tassos Papandopoulos accused Turkey of destroying churches in the northern part of the island.

‘I consider it my duty to remind of the destruction of Christian churches and desecration of the holy sanctuaries in the part of our homeland occupied by the Turkish army’, Papandopoulos said at the ceremony for the presentation of the award of the International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Nations held in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow on Saturday

According to the head of the State of Cyprus, ‘the criminal Turkish occupation’ of the last thirty years has led to the ‘organized pillage of the Christian holy sites and systematic plundering’ of the Orthodox cultural heritage in the northern part of the Cyprus."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Al-Qaeda Supporters Threaten To Kill Pastor in Turkey, report | Turkey | Europe

"29-year-old Pastor Kamil Kiroglu was beaten unconscious twice along the street after leaving his church in Adana following Sunday worship services January 8, Compass Direct said.

Wielding a long butcher knife, one of the unidentified attackers allegedly threatened to kill him if he refused "to deny his Christian faith and return to Islam."

The four Turks involved in the attack appeared to be in their late teens but were led by a foreigner probably 10 years older who claimed to be from Turkmenistan, Compass Direct said. At one point, the group’s leader said he was acting on behalf of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, the news agency added.

The information could not be independently verified, but BosNewsLife has learned that evangelical Christians in Turkey have become increasingly worried about threats and attacks."

"After briefly losing consciousness, he managed to get to his feet and start running again, but again the attackers caught up with him. “They were trying to force me to deny Jesus,” Kiroglu told the news agency. "But each time they asked me to deny Jesus and become a Muslim, I was saying, ‘Jesus is Lord.’ The more I said ‘Jesus is Lord,’ the more they beat me."

Kiroglu saw in one man’s hands a long butcher knife, which he later learned had been grabbed from a nearby kebap restaurant. Shoving the knife against Kiroglu’s stomach, the attacker said, “I’m asking you again, deny Jesus, or I will kill you now."

Suddenly, the Christian said, he felt two heavy blows, one on his head and the other on his spine, and everything went dark. When he regained consciousness, his attackers were gone and his friend was trying to wake him up."

"Turkish security police investigating both incidents have reportedly suggested that local extremist youths could be claiming the Al-Qaeda label in order to intimidate Turks from converting to Christianity."
Al-Qaeda Supporters Threaten To Kill Pastor in Turkey, report | Turkey | Europe

Saturday, January 21, 2006


"Five young men attacked and threatened to kill a Protestant church leader in Turkey’s fourth largest city after Sunday worship services January 8. Kamil Kiroglu, 29, was beaten unconscious twice along the street after leaving his church premises in Adana at about 5 p.m. “They were trying to force me to deny Jesus,” Kiroglu said. “But each time they asked me to deny Jesus and become a Muslim, I was saying, ‘Jesus is Lord.’ The more I said ‘Jesus is Lord,’ the more they beat me.” Wielding a long butcher knife, one of the unidentified attackers threatened to kill him if he refused to deny his Christian faith and return to Islam."

Compass Direct

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Turkey's peculiar religious freedom

"Turkey's peculiar attitude to religious freedom, after centuries of a rich patchwork of religious traditions variously tolerated in the Ottoman Empire, perplexes Europeans."

"To understand Turkey's current sensitivities about religious freedom, one has to understand the effects of history in shaping the life of the state and nation. One also has to understand the inherited Islamic psychology and its consequences for those who are not Muslims."

"It is difficult precisely to determine the effects of a complex Islamic culture on individuals and social groups. One has to keep reiterating that minorities are Turkish by modern citizenship but often are made to feel foreign, even if their customs and deeper ethnic identities predate the majority culture by many centuries."
Forum 18 Search/Archive

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Turkish Christian Television

"Christian television debuted in Turkey a week ago today.

The ministry's twice weekly broadcasts will feature (two) hour-long programs for a wide-ranged audience and will be a combination of in-country Turkish and outside productions."

"Church leaders are responding enthusiastically. One pastor says the outreach helps Turks proclaim Christ to their own people in their own language."

Articles - Mission Network News

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Momentum Magazine - focused on missions to unreached peoples

This month's Momentum Magazine has several articles about the work in Turkey, especially the translation of the Turkish Bible.

Momentum Magazine - focused on missions to unreached peoples

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bird Flu Scare

Many people in Turkey are dealing with their fears over the incidences of avian flu that have occurred in the cities around the country. In times like this, where there is a lot of fear and uncertainty, people are often looking for answers. Pray not only for the health of the people of Turkey, but also that this scare will result in spiritual openness among a much wider swath of the population than are directly affected by the flu.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

SAT-7 Marks New Year with Launch of Turkish T.V. Network | Christianpost.com- Christian News Online , Christian World News

" SAT-7 has taken a major step up with the launch of a new program in the Turkish language - one of the languages spoken by the largest people groups in the Middle East and North Africa.

Launched in January 2006, TURK-7 is broadcasting four hours of Christian programs a week beginning Jan. 10 to encourage and help build the Church in Turkey."

"The Turkish Christian Television Network is the third major launch following the broadcasting launches made in 1996 and 2002 in the Arabic and Farsi languages."

"The new programming will feature The Jesus Experience, an eight-hour documentary series explaining the basic history of the Christian faith; Two Birds Build the Nest!, a series of programs giving help on relationships within the family; and People Who Met Jesus, where a Turkish pastor illustrates what it means to encounter Jesus today."

"With a weekly airtime cost of $2,400 for TURK-7, SAT-7 encourages support through donations on its website (www.sat7.org)."
SAT-7 Marks New Year with Launch of Turkish T.V. Network | Christianpost.com- Christian News Online , Christian World News