Thursday, June 19, 2008

Turkish Pastor Facing Jail On "False" Charges

Turkish Pastor Facing Jail On "False" Charges | Turkey | Europe
Pastor Orhan Piçaklar of the Samsun Agape Church in the Black Sea coastal city of Samsun found a notice Sunday, June 15, notifying him that he was a suspect in a court case and requiring him to come immediately to give testimony, said US-based advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC) with Website

When he arrived at the public prosecutor’s office the pastor apparently discovered that charges against him had been hand-written and included a false identity number. When he asked the prosecutor why he had opened a case on this basis, he was allegedly told: “Because there are crazy people around.”

ICC said the "vague remark" probably means "that the prosecutor is trying to save his own skin from Muslim radicals who would target him if he was seen to be 'soft' on Christians."

There was no immediate comment from the prosecutors office. ICC said the anonymous accuser, using a hidden camera, had also taken pictures of a baptism and a wedding blessing ceremony at the church. Charges against him included "Insulting the prophet of Islam, Mohammed", "Insulting the police" and "Performing a marriage ceremony in the church," ICC said, citing the hand-written letter.


Piçaklar has denied the charges, saying that never insulted anyone "because the New Testament commands Christians to respect all people." In addition, he reportedly said that he didn't perform a marriage ceremony, but only a "celebration and blessing of a couple who were already married."

ICC said it fears the pastor could receive jail time for these charges, although it was not immediately clear how much time the prosecutor is asking for him to serve. In published remarks, Piçaklar said, "I am not afraid as for the Lord in everything I can do everything. But please pray for my family because they will be in desperate straits if anything happens to me." He reportedly added that he believes, "The Lord will not allow them to be left alone, because the Lord here is daily growing His church, Satan is restless and creating problems.

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