Monday, December 31, 2007

Turkish police foil plot to kill priest

Turkish police foil plot to kill priest: reports | International | Reuters
Turkish police have foiled a plot to murder a priest, in a case that recalls other attacks this year against Christians in Muslim but secular Turkey, newspapers reported on Monday.

Police in the coastal resort of Antalya detained a young man on Sunday on suspicion of preparing to kill Orthodox priest Ramazan Arkan, who is a Turk, the Milliyet daily said.

The suspect, who was due to appear in court on Monday, told police he had been influenced by a television serial "The Valley of the Wolves", popular among Turkish ultra-nationalists, the paper said.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

When the Turkish flag becomes a cross!

When the Turkish flag becomes a cross! - Turkish Daily News Dec 29, 2007
Flags are everywhere. On balconies, in shop windows, on taxis, some of them in huge sizes hanging from huge flagpoles and seen from everywhere. What is this symbolism all about? It is not a celebration, it is not a gesture of joy; there are some elements in it involving protest against terror, we can understand that. However, terror and the armed uprising have been routine parts of our lives for quite some time. This "flag love" is a very new phenomenon though. It was not like that before. The Turkish flag has become a symbol like the cross; every Turkish person should have and put it on a visible place in which they reside or where they work. It is the Turkish cross that will be put forward against evil forces! But who are they? Against whom did we take out our crosses? Is this country under invasion? Is this a protest against the "invaders?" Who are they? It is like in protest against an occupation people are showing their patriotism and their determination to resist!

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Assassination of priests on Parliament's agenda

Assassination of priests on Parliament's agenda - Turkish Daily News Dec 28, 2007
The increasing frequency of assassinations and attacks against Christian clerics in Turkey was on Parliament's agenda yesterday.

State Minister for Religious Affairs Said Yazıcıoğlu said the government is very sensitive about the recent attacks and assassinations against priests in Turkey.

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Christmas ceremony held in the house of Virgin Mary

Christmas ceremony held in the house of Virgin Mary - Turkish Daily News Dec 29, 2007
Approximately 150 Catholics celebrated the birthday of Jesus in the house of the Virgin Mary in the Selçuk district of Aydın Tuesday.

The Catholic Christians came from Istanbul, İzmir, Kuşadası, Didim and Bodrum. They chanted and made wishes for their loved ones by lighting candles.

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We should pray for Western powers to become true Christians: Majlis speaker

Interesting comment, I'm glad he recognizes that not all Westerners are really Christians
tehran times : We should pray for Western powers to become true Christians: Majlis speaker
All people in the world know Jesus Christ as the symbol of peace, love, and justice, however, many Christian powers behave exactly the opposite and they are the symbol of war, cruelty, and enmity, Iranian Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said here on Wednesday.

“We should pray for Western powers to become true Christians,” because currently not only they are not Christians, but also they are acting against Christ, Haddad-Adel stated before a Majlis session.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Assyrian revival stirs in Turkey

In a corner of 21st Century Turkey, a congregation still worships in the language of Christ.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Assyrian revival stirs in Turkey
At an early morning Sunday church service, chanting in Aramaic fills the air together with the sweet scent of incense. Men pray standing, their palms open to heaven. Most of the women are behind a wooden lattice at the back, their heads covered in scarves. These people are Assyrians and the region they know as Tur Abdin was once the heartland of their ancient Christian church. At the turn of the last century an estimated 200,000 Assyrians still lived here. Today there are fewer than 3,000 left. But recently, there have been signs of a possible revival.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Trilogy of murder: Conspiracy and beyond (II)

Trilogy of murder: Conspiracy and beyond (II) - Turkish Daily News Dec 26, 2007
In the first part of this series I said it would constitute a conspiracy theory to allege that all these murders are centrally planned and coordinated.

After I wrote the first piece two other terrible incidents happened. A Syriac academic, who was reportedly working on Armenian and Syriac genocide related issues, was killed when his throat was slit and as you all know a catholic priest was stabbed in the stomach while he was conducting a religious ceremony in İzmir. After each incident I kept saying that these incidents would not be the last ones.

I was in Malatya just one day after the massacre of three Christians there and I held a press conference together with the leaders of the Protestant community in which we said, we know this will not be the last incident. And it was not. Murder of the Syriac academic and the assault on the catholic priest will not be the last ones either. This will continue. Maybe until Turkey faces a series of pressure from the outside world!

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Erdogan: Attacks on Christians in Turkey unacceptable, against Islam

The New Anatolian
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that attacks on several priests and a publishing house in Turkey are incidents that the government "can never accept."

"The Santoro incident in Trabzon, the incident in Malatya (publishing house incident), and the recent incident in Izmir (an attack injuring a priest). We can never accept them," he told in a gathering in Istanbul to exchange Eid al-Adha greetings.

"Those who are staging them do not know anything about Islam," he said.

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Merry Christmas!

It's all about Him!

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Friday, December 21, 2007

A Christian satellite ministry celebrates

Mission Network News
SAT-7 PARS began broadcasting five years ago under the name of Iranian Christian Broadcasting, with a two-hour weekly broadcast. Four years later, SAT-7 launched a new 24-hour broadcasting channel. In late 2006, the ministry changed the channel's name to SAT-7 PARS to indicate its focus on Persian/Farsi-speaking people located both in and near Iran. The channel also broadcasts four hours of programming in Turkish each day.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The cross and the crescent

Click the link to read all of this article from the Economist.

Turkey and its Christians | The cross and the crescent |
HIS has been a bad year for Orhan Ant. As a Protestant missionary in Samsun, on the Black Sea, he has had death threats and his church has been repeatedly stoned. Local newspapers called him a foreign agent. A group of youths tried to kidnap him as he was driving home. His pleas for police protection have gone unheeded.

Mr Ant is not alone. All over Turkey, Christians are under attack. In January Hrant Dink, an ethnic Armenian newspaper editor, was shot dead in Istanbul by a teenager who said he had “insulted Turkishness”. In April two Turks and a German, all evangelists, were murdered in Malatya. Their killers bound and tortured them before slitting their throats. In December an Italian Catholic priest was knifed by a teenager in Izmir. Another Italian priest was shot dead in Trabzon in 2006.

Many blame the attacks on a new ultra-nationalism, tinged with Islamic militancy, that has swept across Turkey. Unemployed teenagers in the Black Sea region seem especially prone to it. “The plight of Christians is critical,” says Husnu Ondul, president of the Ankara-based Turkish Human Rights Association. Like many others, he believes that the “deep state”, comprising a few judges, army officers and security officials who need enemies to justify their grip on power, is behind the attacks.

That may seem far-fetched. Yet evidence leaked to the media in the Dink and Malatya cases points to collusion between the perpetrators and rogue elements in the police and the army. It also suggests that the Istanbul police were tipped off about Mr Dink's murder a year before it was carried out. “So why did the Istanbul police do nothing to prevent it?” wonders Ergin Cinmen, a lawyer for the Dink family.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Izmir, knifed friar refused to baptise aggressor

TURKEY Izmir, knifed friar refused to baptise aggressor - Asia News
The assailant, who knifed Fr. Adriano Franchini in the stomach this morning, reacted after the latest in a series of refusals of his requests to be baptised. The Capuchin friar, Superior of the Custody of Turkey, did not consider him ready to become a Christian.

Currently Fr. Franchini – a native in Modena – is in hospital in a reserved condition. Eyewitnesses say that the priest was attacked by a “hooligan”, who has been attending the parish for the last three years. The reason behind the attack- according to the young man’s confession to police – the latest refusal of baptism, which he has long desired.

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Hate campaign leads to attack against priest

TURKEY Hate campaign leads to attack against priest - Asia News
Turkey’s press has expressed regrets for the latest incident involving an attack against a Christian clergyman. Fr Adriano Franchini, an Italian-born 65-year-old Capuchin who has been in Turkey for 27 years, was in fact stabbed to the stomach but is now out of danger. Turkish newspapers have however failed so far to take notice of the ongoing defamation campaign against Catholics in the country. Ramazan Bay, the 19-year-old man who carried out the attack, surrendered to police a few hours after the stabbing. He had fled after he carried out his attack in a church in Barakli in Izmir right after mass and in front several witnesses. He was quickly identified as a young Turkish man who had recently expressed a desire to convert to Christianity and complained about the long procedure the Church in Turkey required for conversion. In fact the young man told police that he took the decision to stab the priest after searching the internet for information on Christian activities and watching the last episode of a made-for-TV movie titled The Valley of the Wolves, which focuses on alleged Christian propaganda and proselytising.

The Turkish government shows very little restraint when it comes to censoring those who attack “Turkishness,” but does precious little when it comes to defending Turkey’s secularism and democracy from attacks. Many people, be they non-religious, Christian or Muslim, hope that Turkey’s political leaders might put a stop to this short-sightedness and help instead the Turkish nation show Europe and the world Turkey’s real face, one that believes in freedom, democracy and truth. Only this way can the vicious cycle of prejudice and suspicion between European countries and Turkey be broken, thus allowing the former to open their doors to the latter.

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Monday, December 17, 2007


Compass Direct News
A 19-year-old Muslim youth stabbed an Italian priest in the stomach yesterday after Sunday services outside a Catholic church in Turkey.

Father Adriano Franchini, 65, was hospitalized overnight in the Aegean city of Izmir, and hospital authorities expected to discharge him today, the Anatolia News Agency reported.

According to the daily Hurriyet newspaper, the arrested assailant admitted in his statement to the police that he had been influenced by a recent episode of the popular television serial drama “Kurtlar Vadisi” (Valley of the Wolves). The series caricatures Christian missionaries as political “infiltrators” who pay poor families to convert to Christianity.

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Trilogy of murder: Conspiracy and beyond (I)

Trilogy of murder: Conspiracy and beyond (I) - Turkish Daily News Dec 15, 2007
Let us look at the Father Santora, the Hrant Dink and the Malatya murders from a different perspective. Santora was a Catholic priest in Trabzon. Hrant Dink was of Armenian descent and a well-known intellectual but also he belonged to the Orthodox community. As everyone knows, the missionaries who were brutally killed in Malatya were Protestants. Basically three sets of murders eliminated people who belonged to three different sects of Christianity. If you are a person who likes conspiracy theories you could produce really complicated and plausible conspiracy theories in the face of these murders.

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Priest Attacked, Hurt in Turkey

The Associated Press: Priest Attacked, Hurt in Turkey
A Catholic priest was hospitalized Sunday after being stabbed, the Italian Embassy in Turkey said. Police said they detained the suspected attacker.

The assault was the latest in a series of attacks on Christians in Turkey and was likely to add to concerns about whether the predominantly Muslim country — which is bidding for European Union membership — can protect its Christian community.

The priest, Adriano Franchini, was stabbed after Sunday Mass at St. Anthony's church in the port city of Izmir, said Simon Carta, the Italian consul there.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

German cardinal seeks OK to build church in Turkey

German cardinal seeks OK to build church in Turkey : Religion General
A German cardinal is appealing to Turkey for permission to build a Christian shrine in Tarsus, the birthplace of Saint Paul, a newspaper, the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger, was set to report Saturday. The Catholic archbishop of Cologne, Joachim Meisner, suggested this as a goodwill gesture to end a dispute in the city about planning permission for a big new mosque for Cologne's Turkish Moslem community.

Cardinal Meisner said a centre for Christian pilgrimage in the Mediterranean port city of Tarsus would be a symbol of religious freedom in Turkey.

"We Christians don't have anything there," said Meisner, who has held back from welcoming plans by Ditib, a Turkish religious affairs agency, to build a grand mosque in inner-city Cologne to replace a crowded existing mosque.

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Turkey : Malatya murder scandal

Turkey : Malatya murder scandal - JOURNAL CHRETIEN
’Turkey at the moment is like a restless sea with several dangerous currents getting stronger and stronger, threatening to create a serious storm.’ We prayed for the storm to be stilled (Matthew 8:23-27). These ’dangerous currents’ are being whipped up by monsters raging with agitation. The stronger one is ’Turkish nationalism’ and the weaker but growing one is ’Islam’. Please pray that they will be fully exposed, confronted and dealt with.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Reacting to a storm of media reporting seriously flawed conduct by state prosecutors in Malatya, the Turkish Interior Ministry last weekend opened a judicial investigation into alleged collusion of public officials in the torture and murder of three Christians in the southeastern city last April.

Mounting evidence emerged that the five confessed murderers had direct, repeated links with local police officers, members of the special military forces, a regional council member of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and even a chief public prosecutor. The reports included banner headlines in national newspapers and a leading slot on evening TV news broadcasts for five consecutive days.

Implications swirled over why the Malatya Prosecutor’s Office had ignored obvious leads from telephone records of the suspects and failed to investigate two very detailed, incriminating letters by “informers” who claimed to be close to the perpetrators behind the five young killers.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Turkey investigates possible police collusion in Christian murders

Turkey investigates possible police collusion in Christian murders
Two suspects, Abuzer Yildirim and Salih Guler were quoted by Radikal newspaper as saying that another suspect, Emre Gunaydin, had told them that he had met with police officials who gave him the locations of Christian churches in the city.

According to Radikal, Yildirim said, "I asked him [Gunaydin] who are the police chiefs that you are speaking to, he said: 'Don't ask, take it easy."'

Allegations of police collusion also arose following the murder in January of Hrant Dink, an ethnic Armenian who roused the ire of Turkish nationalists when he describe the killings of Armenians in the early 20th century as genocide –Turkey has always denied genocide.

According to FoxNews, some believe the authorities failed to act on reports of a plot to kill Dink, although no evidence has linked any government or police officials to Dink’s murder.

There are fears that a “deep state” may exist in which a network of informers and ex-officials are linked to organised crime that sometimes targets reformers and other “enemies” of Turkish nationalism.

In addition, Christian leaders in the country have expressed concern that nationalists are promoting hostility against non-Turks and non-Muslims by exploiting the uncertainty of Turkey’s place in the world, reports FoxNews.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Turkey's Human Rights Situation "Discouraging"

Bianet :: Turkey's Human Rights Situation "Discouraging"
The existence of the Department of Religious Affairs, obligatory Religious Education classes at school, and clothing rules are still problems. There are still attacks on non-Muslims. Cem houses, the places of worship for Alevis, are denoted as “culture centres”.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Turkish pastor receives increased protection following hit-list discovery

Turkish pastor receives increased protection following hit-list discovery
Turkish police have increased their protection of a Baptist pastor in the country, after his name was discovered on a hit list being carried by three suspected terrorists.

The suspects were arrested after being found with a cache of weapons. It is believed they were planning on carrying out an attack.

Pastor Erstan Mesut Cevik, who runs a Baptist church in Izmir, was originally put under police protection in April this year after he carried out the funeral service of a murdered Turkish convert to Christianity, reports Baptist Times.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Theologian accused of involvement in Malatya murder

Suspects in the investigation of the brutal killing of three Christians at Zirve Publishing House in Malatya in April of last year have links to numerous individuals in the state, including security officers, the police and even prosecutors, but the most surprising link they have is to an academic. Ruhi Abat, a research assistant at Malatya University’s Department of Theology, was accused in a letter -- signed by a man named Ali A. -- of having incited Emre Günaydın, one of the three suspects captured at the site of the murder. The picture above shows Abat in a conference on “Islam, [Christian] Missionaries and Destructive Activity.” Abat refused to comment on the accusations directed at him. Photographs and information related to him have been removed from the Web site of Malatya University’s Department of Theology. Abat’s research focused on missionary activity. He is also the author of an article titled, “The Breaking Points in the Discourse of Dialogue between Religions,” and “The Claims Missionaries Spread about Belief in God,” both available on the Internet.

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Government called upon to shed light on Malatya murders

The investigation and trial of the suspects in the brutal murders of three Bible publishers in the southeastern city of Malatya last April have been marred by serious allegations of cover ups and obstruction of justice, but the government could intervene, according to a number of prominent columnists, political leaders and lawyers. The government has so far remained inactive in the face of what seems to be a process of grave obstruction of justice but could act and change the course of events, columnists, political leaders and lawyers said in their appeals to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on Friday.

“The Malatya case shows the usual practice of the protective shield of the state with its security forces and judiciary. The security forces and the judiciary here are protecting each other by not conducting a detailed investigation. Those who are protected are the hit men who say they committed the murders with ‘nationalist feelings’, secret or non-secret services they had contacts with, meaning police and military intelligence units. The common point among all these similar incidents is this protection.”

Öndül said, in addition to the Dink murder, the same pattern was evident in the murder case of Trabzon’s Father Andrea Santoro, killed last year by an ultra-nationalist teenager and the attempt to assassinate Akın Birdal, a former head of the İHD.

Öndül said the murderers in all these cases said they committed the acts out of nationalist and patriotic feelings, but the investigations were never successful because the state prosecutors and judges have the same mentality. “The judiciary’s approach is a one that is state-oriented rather than protecting the rights of the people. Minorities’ differences are perceived as a threat to state security. According to Öndül, the only way to break through this shield is a “strong and determined political will.”

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Thursday, December 06, 2007


It has now emerged that, in the six months preceding the murders, four of the suspects changed their telephones a total of 106 times, suggesting a concerted attempt to avoid surveillance. The cost of changing telephones so frequently has also raised the question of whether they were receiving financial support. Perhaps more alarmingly, the records of the telephones used by the accused showed that those with whom they had been in regular contact included a local council member from the ultranationalist Nationalist Action Party (MHP), someone in the Ankara headquarters of the Special Police Unit, a public prosecutor, and a member of the military (Milliyet, Radikal, Vatan, NTV, CNN-Turk, November 4).

There is nothing to suggest that the institutions themselves were involved in the murders. However, the latest revelations have disturbing parallels with the trial of those suspected of killing Hrant Dink and have raised questions about the prevalence of racist and religious prejudices among those responsible for maintaining law and order. At the trial of Dink’s suspected murderer, it emerged that, despite reporting numerous death threats, Dink had not been offered police protection. More worryingly, telephone records presented to the court suggested that some of those accused of Dink’s murder had close links with elements in the police force in their native city of Trabzon, on Turkey’s eastern Black Sea coast. After the main suspect had been arrested, the Turkish media published photographs taken by the detaining officers, showing him a variety of heroic poses in front of the Turkish flag. Similarly, after a 16 year-old was convicted of the February 2006 murder in Trabzon of the Italian priest Andrea Santoro, his family received photographs taken by detaining police showing their son proudly displaying a Turkish flag (Milliyet, October 5).

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Curtain of mist thickens over Malatya murder case

Phone conservations of five suspects accused of torturing and murdering two Turkish and one German Christian on April 18 in a publishing house in the southeastern province of Malatya have raised serious questions over the shadowy connections among the suspects, prosecutors, police officers and military personnel.

Though the murders first appeared to be motivated by hate toward the three publishers -- Necati Aydın, Uğur Yüksel and Tilmann Geske -- working at Zirve Publishing House, the phone calls made over the last six months prior to the killings by the five suspects -- Emre Günaydın, Hamit Çeker, Abuzer Yıldırım, Cuma Özdemir and Salih Gürler -- have revealed unexpected connections.

A security officer, a chief public prosecutor, a writer, a parliamentary deputy candidate and even members of special military forces are among the figures the suspects conversed with before the murders, noted media reports.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Baptist pastor on hit list in Turkey

The Baptist Standard :: The Newsmagazine of Texas Baptists
A Baptist pastor in Turkey has been placed on a death list.

Ertan Mesut Cevik, pastor of a Baptist church in Izmir, the modern name for biblical Smyrna, and Turkey’s third largest city by population, has received increased police protection after his name was found on a list carried by three suspected terrorists. The three, who are arrested, are suspected of planning wide scale attacks after a large cache of weapons was found in their possession.

Cevik has been under police protection since April 2007 after he hosted a funeral service for one of three Christians that was killed in Turkey on April 18. Two of the murder victims, Necati Aydin, 36, and Ugur Yuksel, 32, were Turks who converted from Islam to Christianity. The third man, Tillman Geske, 46, was a German citizen.

The Baptist pastor was also protected after he and the Baptist congregation were accused in a Turkish newspaper article, published after the three murders in April, of engaging in “coercive evangelism” by using money and drugs to attract young people. These charges were denied by the church.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007


Bowing to demands of prosecution lawyers, yesterday the judge presiding over a contrived case against two Turkish converts to Christianity for “insulting Turkishness” ordered 12 more witnesses to testify.

During a 50-minute hearing yesterday in Silivri, 45 miles west of Istanbul, Judge Metin Tamirci summoned two alleged eyewitnesses, five gendarme soldiers, two policemen and three local residents to appear at the next hearing before the Silivri Criminal Court, set for March 13.

Ultranationalist lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz claimed on behalf of his three young plaintiffs that the potential witnesses on his September 4 petition to the court had “information and eyewitness details” pertinent to the accusations against defendants Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal.

The three Silivri residents summoned are listed on the defendants’ computers as people who had requested Christian literature and a visit from a local Bible correspondence course with which Tastan and Topal worked.

The prosecution had previously requested several of these individuals as potential witnesses, but their admission into the case had been denied by the previous judge. Judge Neset Eren withdrew from the case in September after Kerincsiz accused him of improper bias in his handling of the litigation.

“A year has passed, and the court has already heard all the testimonies on both sides of this case,” defense lawyer Haydar Polat told Compass yesterday. “But it is clear from today’s hearing that the court plans to continue this unfounded case for at least another year or more.”

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Display Of Antisemitic, Anti-Christian Koran Verse Created Controversy In Turkey

The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) encourages imams to display Koranic verses at the gates of Turkey’s mosques. The verse that the imam of Zeynep Sultan Mosque in the busy Eminonu district of Istanbul chose to display was Maida, 51 that says: “Oh ye, the believers! Take not the Jews and Christians for your friends. They are friends to each other and he who befriends them is one of them. Allah does not guide those cruel oppressors to the path of truth”

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Kidnapped Turkish Priest Freed

BREAKING NEWS: Kidnapped Turkish Priest Freed (WRAPUP) | Turkey | Europe
A Turkish Syriac priest who was kidnapped this week has been released unharmed in southeast Turkey, officials and friends said Friday, November 30, but it was not clear whether a ransom had been paid.

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