Thursday, December 17, 2009

Plot Targeting Turkey’s Religious Minorities Allegedly Discovered

Compass Direct News
Chilling allegations emerged last month of a detailed plot by Turkish naval officers to perpetrate threats and violence against the nation’s non-Muslims in an effort to implicate and unseat Turkey’s pro-Islamic government.

Evidence put forth for the plot appeared on an encrypted compact disc discovered last April but was only recently deciphered; the daily Taraf newspaper first leaked details of the CD’s contents on Nov. 19.

Entitled the “Operation Cage Action Plan,” the plot outlines a plethora of planned threat campaigns, bomb attacks, kidnappings and assassinations targeting the nation’s tiny religious minority communities – an apparent effort by military brass to discredit the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The scheme ultimately called for bombings of homes and buildings owned by non-Muslims, setting fire to homes, vehicles and businesses of Christian and Jewish citizens, and murdering prominent leaders among the religious minorities.

Turks Threaten to Kill Priest over Swiss Minaret Decision

Compass Direct News

In response to a Swiss vote banning the construction of new mosque minarets, a group of Muslims this month went into a church building in eastern Turkey and threatened to kill a priest unless he tore down its bell tower, according to an advocacy group.

Three Muslims on Dec. 4 entered the Meryem Ana Church, a Syriac Orthodox church in Diyarbakir, and confronted the Rev. Yusuf Akbulut. They told him that unless the bell tower was destroyed in one week, they would kill him.

“If Switzerland is demolishing our minarets, we will demolish your bell towers too,” one of the men told Akbulut.

The threats came in reaction to a Nov. 29 referendum in Switzerland in which 57 percent voted in favor of banning the construction of new minarets in the country. Swiss lawmakers must now change the national constitution to reflect the referendum, a process that should take more than a year.

The Swiss ban, widely viewed around the world as a breach of religious freedom, is likely to face legal challenges in Switzerland and in the European Court of Human Rights.

There are roughly 150 mosques in Switzerland, four with minarets. Two more minarets are planned. The call to prayer traditional in Muslim-majority countries is not conducted from any of the minarets.
Fikri Aygur, vice president of the European Syriac Union, said that Akbulut has contacted police but has otherwise remained defiant in the face of the threats.

“He has contacted the police, and they gave him guards,” he said. “I talked with him two days ago, and he said, ‘It is my job to protect the church, so I will stand here and leave it in God’s hands.’”

Meryem Ana is more than 250 years old and is one of a handful of churches that serve the Syriac community in Turkey. Also known as Syrian Orthodox, the Syriacs are an ethnic and religious minority in Turkey and were one of the first groups of people to accept Christianity. They speak Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, a language spoken by Christ. Diyarbakir is located in eastern Turkey, about 60 miles from the Syrian border.

At press time the tower was standing and the priest was safe, said Jerry Mattix, youth pastor at the Diyarbakir Evangelical Church, which is located across a street from Meryem Ana Church.

Mattix said that threats against Christians in Diyarbakir are nothing out of the ordinary. Mattix commonly receives threats, both in the mail and posted on the church’s Internet site, he said.

“We’re kind of used to that,” Mattix said. He added that he has received no threats over the minaret situation but added, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we do.”

Mattix said the people making threats in the area are Muslim radicals with ties to Hezbollah “who like to flex their muscles.”

“We are a major target out here, and we are aware of that,” Mattix said. “But the local police are taking great strides to protect us.”

Mattix said he also has “divine confidence” in God’s protection.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Turkey Feels The Pain Of Swiss Minaret Ban

Turkey Feels The Pain Of Swiss Minaret Ban | HULIQ

The Swiss Minaret ban has drawn many critical voices from around the world. The majority of Muslims in Switzerland are from Turkey and some from the Balkans. Turkey feels the minaret decision pain as number of Christian churches (namely Armenian and Greek) in Turkey are either closed or turned to museums.

Turkey, on the other hand is one of those countries where the opposite problem exists. While most Muslim countries and many Christians strongly criticized the Swiss Minaret vote, no one in the Muslim world or even in Europe seems to really care about the situation of the Christian churches and seminaries for preparation of schools in Turkey.

Churches Turned Into Museums in Turkey

While many Christian churches operate in Turkey number of others are closed or turned into museums. Halki Seminary, the main school of theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church's Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, was closed in 1971 and not opened to this date.

The most beautiful church of the Orthodox Christianity, the cathedral of Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul. Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935 by the Republic of Turkey. One begs the question, "Why not turn it back to a church and give it back to the rightful owner, which is the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Turkey." In fact, this church is so beautiful and awe inspiriting that it served as a model for many Muslim mosques, like Sultan Ahmed in Istanbul.

Consider the St. Sophia Museum, which was built in covered Greek cross architecture during the reign of King Manuel I Kommenos in 13th century. Today, St. Sophia church is converted into a museum and is located in 3 kilometers west of Trabzon. The "conversion" of this church into a museum took place in 1964.

To the credit of the current Turkish government it should be noted that some churches, such as the Armenian church in Aghtamar Island in the Eastern Turkey are restored. However, they are not houses of worship yet.

How different is the Swiss Minaret ban from Turkey's restoring the Armenian Church Aghtamar, turning it into a museum and not yet allowing to put a cross on the top of the church building? Turkey completed the controversial restoration of Aghtamar Armenian Church in 2006. Armenian religious leaders invited to attend the opening ceremony opted to boycott the event, because the church was being reopened as a secular museum.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Survey: 59% of Muslim Turks Against Allowing Other Religions to Meet Openly, Exchange Ideas

Survey: 59% of Muslim Turks Against Allowing Other Religions to Meet Openly, Exchange Ideas | EuropeNews

More than Half in Turkey Oppose Non-Muslim Religious Meetings

ISTANBUL -Survey finds nearly 40 percent of population has negative view of Christians. More than half of the population of Muslim-majority. Turkey opposes members of other religions holding meetings or publishing materials to explain their faith, according to a recently issued survey.

Fully 59 percent of those surveyed said non-Muslims either "should not” or "absolutely should not” be allowed to hold open meetings where they can discuss their ideas. Fifty-four percent said non-Muslims either "should not” or "absolutely should not” be allowed to publish literature that describes their faith.

The survey also found that almost 40 percent of the population of Turkey said they had "very negative” or "negative” views of Christians. In the random survey, 60 percent of those polled said there is one true religion; over 90 percent of the population of Turkey is Sunni Muslim.

Ali Çarkoglu, one of two professors at Sabanci University who conducted the study, said no non-Muslim religious gathering in Turkey is completely "risk free.”

"Even in Istanbul, it can’t be easy to be an observant non-Muslim,” Çarkoglu said.

Monday, November 30, 2009

We don't need ancient stones to talk when we have Nicene Creed to read

We don't need ancient stones to talk when we have Nicene Creed to read | The News-Sentinel - Fort Wayne IN
Ancient history seems not so ancient when you can see it, touch it, feel it, walk around in it. Living in Turkey gives me the opportunity to do exactly that just about every day. In the center of the suburb where I live on the edge of Istanbul stands a collection of brick and stone ruins that date back at least a thousand years to the Byzantine Empire.

No one around here seems to know really how old they are, but comparing them to other structures in the area leads me to believe that they may be close to 2,000 years old. When Thomas Jefferson penned the words of the Declaration of Independence, these ancient ruins had already stood for centuries. Some of the local residents actually use them today, keeping chickens underneath the vaulted ceilings of what appears to be either a Roman bathhouse or a church.

Just three hours south of Istanbul, on the other side of a large bay and over a modest mountain range, is the verdant valley of Nicea, or Iznik, as it's known in Turkish. The ancient town of Nicea sits next to a huge lake surrounded by olive-tree-covered mountains. For the past 500 years or more, Turks have lived in the town, growing olives and gardens, fishing in the lake and drinking strong cups of Turkish coffee while they sit chatting mostly about nothing in particular.

Romans built a large wall around Nicea, marking it as an important city in the region. The Turks have left the Roman structures intact, so you can find in Nicea one of the most completely preserved city walls in the country. One of the gates is dedicated to the Emperor Hadrian, built close to the time the Romans built Hadrian's Wall across England to keep out the barbaric tribes of Scotland. In other words, it is all really old - but there it is, still standing around Nicea with turrets, gates, and lots of lots of bricks.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkish Military Planned Attacks on Christians

Turkish Military Planned Attacks on Christians |
Senior Turkish military officers had made extensive plans to terrorize non-Muslims in Turkey. In the large Ergenekon[1] scandal recently a well-planned terrorist operation was revealed. The operation which is called "Kafes Operasyonu Eylem Planı", in English meaning "the execution of the cage - operation" was to eliminate the remaining small group of Christians living in Turkey today.

The plan was revealed when police arrested Levent Bektas, a major in the Turkish army. The evidence seized reveals more than 27 officers and senior military officers involved in the conspiracy against Christians.

In order to identify key persons among the Christians and then kill them, this terrorist network has broken into a Greek Church congregation compound and stolen computers. The purpose of this was to access the congregation’s member lists.

"When our office was emptied of computers and files, church members were very concerned. Since the murder of the monk Santoro, the journalist Hrant Dink and the brutal murder of three publishing workers in Malatya, Christians are living in constant fear", said lawyer Kezban Hatemi, representing the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Constantinople (Istanbul).

On 28 November 2007, the Syriac Orthodox monk Daniel Savci in Turabdin was kidnapped in southeastern Turkey. The monk resides in the St. Gabriel monastery, which Turkish authorities are trying to confiscate. A few days later the monk was found beaten. Shortly after, the police arrested some village guards, a state-sanctioned militia subordinate to the Turkish army, for the kidnapping. Many people with insight into the situation interpret the kidnapping as a direct threat to the remaining Assyrians in Turabdin.

Christians were attacked across the country. To implement the strategic attacks, the country's Christian population was mapped out and 939 key persons from different parts of the country were identified as potential targets.

The fully detailed operation consists of four phases: preparation, spreading propaganda, shape opinion and execute.

The newspaper Taraf, which has been able to access the information, has published several articles about this. On its website it is described in detail how the plan to attack the Christians was to be implemented.

Below are some points that constitute the plan's main lines.

* Christians are mapped
* Famous and wealthy Christian businessmen kidnapped
* Systematic fires and looting of Christian businesses
* The Armenian newspaper AGOS be subjected to several explosions
* Murder patrols executing attacks against selected individuals
* Christian cemeteries subjected to explosions
* Churches and institutions belonging to Christians subjected to explosions
* Put the blame on imaginary militant organizations

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Court Seeks Help to Link Murders in Turkey to ‘Deep State’

Court Seeks Help to Link Murders in Turkey to ‘Deep State’
Judges and prosecutors in the trial regarding the murder of three Christians in Malatya, Turkey, on Friday renewed their request for help from the Istanbul High Criminal Court as reports mounted linking the slayings to top gendarmerie officials.

The Malatya court judges overseeing hearings on the murders of Turkish Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and German Christian Tilmann Geske requested that the Istanbul criminal court establish whether the case was linked to the controversial cabal of military, political and other influential figures, Ergenekon, which has allegedly been trying to overthrow the government by upsetting Turkey's peace.

For the last two and a half years prosecuting lawyers have established the case that Emre Gunaydin, Salih Gurler, Cuma Ozdemir, Hamit Ceker and Abuzer Yildirim, who were caught at the murder scene on April 18, 2007, were not acting independently but were incited by Turkey's "deep state," an expression of which is Ergenekon.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Religious dispute in Turkey

The Alevis are the largest religious minority in Turkey, it is hoped that they might help win freedoms for all religious minorities here.

Religious dispute in Turkey | News from Armenia -
Last week token visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Tunceli (province in the Eastern Anatolia region, Turkey) worship house did not produce a strong effect, as thousands gathered in Kadikoy district of Istanbul calling the Government to respect their rights, Turkish Hurriyet informs.

Thousands of Alevis took to Istanbul streets on Nov. 8 demanding to “abolish the Religious Affairs Directorate, eliminate compulsory religious-education classes, recognize cemevis as legitimate houses of worship, and transform the Madimak Hotel in Sivas, where 33 Alevis were killed by a fundamentalist mob, into a museum,” website reads.

Gul’s visit was labeled “insincere” by Alevis, considered a liberal sect of Shia Islam. “Many presidents have visited cemevis, but what difference does it make when they are not recognized as legal houses of worship?” Hurriyet quotes Ali Balkiz, Chairman of the Alevi-Bektashi Federation, as saying at the rally.

“We cannot make our voice heard through the media and columnists. It is only through these mass movements that awareness can be raised among the public and the Alevi voice can be heard. A year after our last rally, nothing has changed. We will continue to rally until our demands are met. What some call the ‘Alevi issue’ we call a ‘political disgrace,” Balkiz said.

The Alevi is a religious, cultural community in Turkey numbering over tens of million people. Alevism is considered one of Shia Islam branches and their rituals are conducted basically in Turkish, and some in Kurdish.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Muslims, Christians pray together in Polonezköy

Muslims, Christians pray together in Polonezköy - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review
Poles and Turks greeted each other warmly as the priest at the small church in Polonezköy, a village on Istanbul’s Asian outskirts settled by Polish emigrants in the 19th century, invited worshippers to exchange the peace during the All Saints’ Day mass on Nov. 1.

Muslim Turks participating in a Christian ritual was “normal for Polonezköy,” an elderly inhabitant of the town said. The priest conducted the mass in both Polish and Turkish so that everyone could participate. After the mass, the congregants commemorated the deceased at a nearby cemetery with flowers while the priest blessed the gravestones with holy water, just as he would in Poland.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Turkish Police Official Axed amid Allegations in Murders

Compass Direct News
The head of Turkey’s police intelligence department was removed on Friday (Oct. 16) amid allegations that he failed to prevent the murder of the Christian editor of an Armenian weekly and the slayings of three Christians in this city in southeastern Turkey.

Ramazan Akyurek is also accused of withholding evidence in those cases and improperly investigating the murder of a Catholic priest in 2006.

Turkey Christians disappointed: government won’t protect them

Turkey Christians disappointed: government won’t protect them

Hopes for improvements in the rights of religious communities in Turkey in 2009 have once more come to nothing, notes Otmar Oehring of the German Catholic Charity Mission in a commentary for Forum 18 News Service.

Alevi Muslims broke off formal talks with the government over denial of their rights. A high-profile lunch with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in August 2009, attended by five religious minority leaders, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, was followed by a visit to two Greek Orthodox sites. But no concrete improvements ensued.

Intolerance promoted by Turkey's mainstream media has markedly reduced, but local and ultranationalist newspapers and websites still promote such intolerance. No verdict was reached in 2009 in the long-running trial over the 2007 murder of three Protestants in Malatya, or over the long-running attempts to prosecute two Protestants accused of "defaming Islam". Dr Oehring argues for a fundamental change in the attitudes of both society and the government.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lawyer Calls Turkish Christians' Trial a 'Scandal'

Lawyer Calls Turkish Christians' Trial a 'Scandal' |
After three prosecution witnesses testified yesterday that they didn’t even know two Christians on trial for “insulting Turkishness and Islam,” a defense lawyer called the trial a “scandal.”

Speaking after yesterday’s hearing in the drawn-out trial, defense attorney Haydar Polat said the case’s initial acceptance by a state prosecutor in northwestern Turkey was based only on a written accusation from the local gendarmerie headquarters unaccompanied by any documentation.

“It’s a scandal,” Polat said. “It was a plot, a planned one, but a very unsuccessful plot, as there is no evidence.”

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Turkey may remove Koran class age limit

Turkey may remove Koran class age limit -
The Turkish minister of labor and social security says the country's law against children under 12 taking courses on the Koran may be abolished.

Minister Faruk Celik said placing an age restriction on classes about the sacred book of Muslims was not appropriate, Bianet reported Wednesday. Under the Turkish Constitution, religious education in schools is compulsory .

"Apart from that, religious education and teaching is up to the individual preference and to the request of the minor's legal guardian," he said of the constitutional requirement. "There is no such thing as age limitation."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The construction of the mosque, dedicated to Jesus Christ, is launched in Diyarbakir

Turkey: The construction of the mosque, dedicated to Jesus Christ, is launched in Diyarbakir - Ferghana.Ru Information agency, Moscow

The construction of the mosque, dedicated to Jesus Christ, is launched in the south-east of Turkey in the city of Diyarbakir, Blagowest-info reports with the reference to Turkish mass media, noting that «thereby, Muslim community wants to make goodwill step towards the followers of other religions».

There was big Christian community in Diyarbakir in the past (mainly Armenian and Syrian Orthodox Churches). In 1915 this community was exposed to cruel persecution and nearly disappeared in the following years.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Christian tombs desecrated in an historic Istanbul cemetery

TURKEY Christian tombs desecrated in an historic Istanbul cemetery - Asia News
A Christian cemetery was desecrated in Istanbul. Unknown person or persons broke 90 tombstones that bore the sign of the cross and the name of the deceased. The incident occurred a few days ago in the historic cemetery of Valukli near the ancient Valukli Monastery, the only monastery dedicated to Our Lady still open in Istanbul, located outside the ancient walls of Theodosius, and which five non-resident nuns care for.

Istanbul’s Christian cemeteries have been desecrated on a number of occasions in the past 20 years. The latest outrage brought back memories of the tragic events of September 1955 when churches, cemeteries and properties owned by Istanbul’s Orthodox community were desecrated and destroyed in a pogrom. Eventually dubbed the September pogrom, the event was the brainchild of Turkey’s political-bureaucratic-military establishment, known here as Derin Devlet or ‘deep state’.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Turkey says okay to Christian worship in birthplace of St. Paul

Anglican Journal: Turkey says okay to Christian worship in birthplace of St. Paul
The government of Turkey has agreed to extend indefinitely permission for Christian worship at an historic church in Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul, says the head of the country’s Roman Catholic bishops’ conference.

“I’m confident the church in Tarsus could soon change from being a museum to a centre of spiritual pilgrimage,” said Bishop Luigi Padovese, after the close of worldwide commemorations to mark the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Turkish PM promises reform to religious minorities

Turkish PM promises reform to religious minorities -
"It is now for us essential to embrace all 71.5 million of this nation's people in respect and love," he said, repeating his opposition to ethnic nationalism and saying his government kept an equal distance to all faiths.

"Are there shortcomings in implementation? There are. We will overcome these together in this struggle. I believe this democratic initiative will change many things in this country," he said in comments reported by broadcaster CNN Turk and confirmed by patriarchate official.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Turkish PM meets with Christian, Jewish minority leaders in Buyukada

Still no Protestant representation at these meetings.
WORLD BULLETIN- TURKEY, MUSLIMS, ISLAM, BALKANS, CAUCASUS [ Turkish PM meets with Christian, Jewish minority leaders in Buyukada ]
Turkey's PM Erdogan met with religious minority group delagates, accompanied with five cabinet ministers in a small island of Istanbul, Buyukada.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Everyone may be proud of own nationality in Turkey: Turkish prime-minister

Think we should hold him to this?

TREND: Everyone may be proud of own nationality in Turkey: Turkish prime-minister
"Everyone can be proud of own nationality in Turkey. Religious and ethnic discrimination has never existed and will never be present in Turkey, Erdogan added.

Turkey is the native land for everyone, who lives here, Erdogan said.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Turkish man assaulted for missionary activities

Turkish man assaulted for missionary activities < German news | Expatica Germany
A 24-year-old street seller assaulted a man on grounds he was proselytizing Christianity, holding a knife to his throat in downtown Istanbul before surrendering to police, newspapers reported Tuesday.

The incident, the latest in a string of religiously-motivated attacks in Turkey in recent years, happened Monday on a busy avenue in Istanbul's Kadikoy district, before the eyes of dozens of passers-by.

The assailant -- identified as 24-year-old pirate CD vendor Yasin Karasu -- wrapped a Turkish flag around the head of Ismail Aydin, 35, put a knife to his throat and shouted "This is Turkey, you cannot distribute Bibles here," the Haberturk newspaper said.

The stand-off lasted for 20 minutes before the police persuaded the assailant to surrender, according to the Sabah daily.

Karasu later told the police he was angry with Aydin for converting to Christianity and engaging in missionary activities, Sabah said, while the Vatan daily suggested the assailant was mentally disturbed.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Kadıköy mural brightens church wall and community

Kadıköy mural brightens church wall and community
Last week foreign and local artists put their brushes together to give a church wall and its neighborhood a facelift. Where graffiti once adorned the 27-meter stretch, now a collage of Kadıköy monuments remind passersby to slow down and enjoy all Kadiköy has to offer.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Patriarch hopeful about historic seminary

Patriarch hopeful about historic seminary - Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul said he was hopeful Turkey would re-open a historic seminary that was shut down nearly four decades ago, the Anatolia news agency has reported.

The Greek seminary, on the island of Halki (Heybeliada) off Istanbul, was the main center of theological education for more than a century before Turkish authorities closed it down in 1971 under a law designed to bring universities under state control. The European Union has long asked Turkey to re-open the seminary to prove its commitment to human rights as it strives to become a member of the 27-nation bloc.

“We are hopeful that the seminary will open, and we are waiting on official news from the government,” the Anatolia news agency quoted Bartholomew as saying late Wednesday. “There has been a lot of talk so far, but no news from Ankara.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Compass Direct News
On a crowded street here last week a German businessman died after a Turk with a history of mental problems stabbed him for being a Christian.

Witnesses saw Ýbrahim Akyol, 26, stab Gregor Kerkeling in the chest on July 20 at 10:50 a.m. after following him out of St. Anthony Catholic Church in Istanbul’s central district of Beyoglu. Church security cameras captured the attack on Kerkeling, who regularly visited the church when he was in town for business.

Kerkeling, in his early forties, had just visited the church to pray that morning. Akyol, a Muslim who reportedly had been visiting area churches scouting around for a Christian victim, followed Kerkeling out of the church building and asked him for a Turkish lira. When Kerkeling refused and gestured him away, Akyol repeatedly stabbed him in the heart and chest area before passersby intervened. According to various news reports, an ambulance did not arrive in time to save Kerkeling’s life.

In a statement to the prosecutor, Akyol reportedly confessed that he woke up that morning and decided he would kill a Christian. He took a kitchen knife with him and went to Istiklal Street, a long pedestrian and commercial road where some of the main traditional churches are located, looking for a victim.

“I wanted to kill a Christian that day and was visiting churches for this reason,” he told prosecutors, according to the Hurriet Daily News. “I saw the person and killed him.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bishop Says Turkey Ready to Permit Permanent Church in St. Paul's Birthplace

Bishop Says Turkey Ready to Permit Permanent Church in St. Paul's Birthplace - News
Turkey's government has agreed to extend indefinite permission for Christian worship at an historic church in Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul, says the head of the country's Roman Catholic bishops' conference.

"I'm confident the church in Tarsus could soon change from being a museum to a center of spiritual pilgrimage," said Bishop Luigi Padovese, speaking after the close of worldwide commemorations to mark the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St Paul.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Under the pretext of recovering from medical treatment he received earlier this month, a key suspect in the murders of three Christians in southeast Turkey dodged court for the second time, further stalling the legal process, prosecuting attorneys said.

Journalist Varol Bulent Aral, one of the suspected “middlemen” who allegedly incited five young men to brutally murder Turkish Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and German Christian Tilmann Geske at the Zirve Publishing Co. in Malatya two years ago, again failed to show at a hearing on Friday (July 17).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Iran interrupts Christian satellite channel

Iran interrupts Christian satellite channel
As the Iranian government cracks down on communication modes following its disputed presidential election, Christian satellite channels have been among its victims.

Terry Ascott, CEO of SAT-7 International, said many satellite channels, including the Christian channel, have been affected by the government crackdown. What is “strange,” he noted, is that the government has found a way to block channels beaming into Iran without jamming satellites that would affect the entire Middle East.

“Somehow they have developed a new technology to simply and simultaneously block access to multiple channels in the major cities – which is the first time we have seen such a thing,” Ascott told The Christian Post on Friday.

Since the presidential elections on June 12, Iran’s government has restricted cell phone and satellite signals in an effort to stop its citizens from organizing demonstrations against hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Orthodox leaders give message of unity in Istanbul

Orthodox leaders give message of unity in Istanbul | World | Reuters
The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church put on a united front on Saturday when they met for talks in Istanbul.

They were expected to discuss the sensitive issue of the churches in Ukraine and Estonia during the three-day visit to Turkey of Patriarch Kirill, enthroned in February to lead the Russian Orthodox Church.

Turkish Anti-Christian Conspiracies?

The American Spectator : AmSpecBlog : Turkish Anti-Christian Conspiracies?
Turkey long has been allied with the U.S., seen as a bulwark against both the Soviet Union and radical Islam. However, ties have been fraying in recent years for a number of reasons. The Turkish public has turned hostile to Washington and Americans cannot even count on the friendship of secular nationalists.

Particularly disturbing is evidence tying the so-called "deep state," long viewed as a threat to democratic governance, especially by the moderately Islamic ruling party, to the 2007 murder of three Christians, a German and two Turkish converts. The crime was grotesquely brutal and cruel, yet public officials have seemed almost as willing to criticize the victims as the murderers.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Turkey aims to reopen old seminary

Turkey aims to reopen old seminary - The National Newspaper
Almost 40 years after it closed down its only training school for Greek Orthodox priests, Turkey is moving closer to reopening the seminary, a step that would remove a high-profile obstacle on the country’s march towards membership in the European Union, statements of two senior government ministers in Ankara suggest.

The fate of the seminary on the island of Heybeliada, or Halki in Greek, in the Sea of Marmara close to Istanbul, has become a symbol for the state of religious freedom in Turkey. US President Barack Obama, during a visit to Turkey in April, joined demands by European officials that Ankara reopen the school, which has been closed since 1971. Because there is no other institution in Turkey that trains Greek Orthodox priests, the clergy in what used to be Byzantium is in danger of dying out.

“My own inclination as well as my general impression are that the school will be opened,” Ertugrul Gunay, the culture and tourism minister and a leading reformer in the cabinet, told the news channel Kanal 24 last weekend, adding that there was “no political problem” with that decision.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Turks increasingly turn to Islamic extremism

Turks increasingly turn to Islamic extremism - Los Angeles Times
Reporting from London -- In an audio message from a hide-out in South Asia this month, an Al Qaeda chief did something new: He sang the praises of an ethnic group that once barely registered in the network.

"We consider the Muslims in Turkey our brothers," said Mustafa Abu Yazid, the network's operations chief. Lauding Turkish suicide bombers killed in recent attacks near the Afghan-Pakistani border, he declared, "This is a pride and honor to the nation of Islam in Turkey, and we ask Allah to accept them amongst the martyrs."

The message is the latest sign of the changing composition of Islamic extremism, anti-terrorism officials and experts say. The number of Turks in Al Qaeda, long dominated by Arabs, has increased notably, officials say. And militant groups dominated by Turks and Central Asians, many of whom share Turkic culture and speak a Turkic language, have emerged as allies of and alternatives to Al Qaeda in northwestern Pakistan.

"We are aware of an increasing number of Turks going to train in Pakistan," said a senior European anti-terrorism official who asked to remain anonymous because the subject is sensitive. "This increase has taken place in the past couple of years."

Turkey's secular tradition and official monitoring of religious practice for years helped restrain extremism at home and in the diaspora. But the newer movements churn out Internet propaganda in Turkish as well as German, an effort to recruit among a Turkish immigrant population in Germany that numbers close to 3 million.

"We are seeing almost as much propaganda material from these Turkic groups as we are from Al Qaeda," said Evan Kohlmann, a U.S. private consultant who works with anti-terrorism agencies around the world. "Turks were perceived as moderate with few connections to Al Qaeda central. Now Germany is dealing with this threat in a community that could be a sleeping giant."

Sunday, June 28, 2009


A suspected “middleman” between the alleged masterminds and young executors in the stabbing murders of three Christians here failed to appear at a hearing on Friday (June 19) because of a procedural error.

The state prosecutor’s office failed to set aside funds to transport Varol Bulent Aral to the southeastern city of Malatya from Istanbul, where he is held, the court announced. Aral is the second suspected middleman connecting the five young murderers to “deep state” masterminds who allegedly plotted to kill Turkish Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and German Christian Tilmann Geske.

Holy people to compete to convert atheists on Turkish TV show

Holy people to compete to convert atheists on Turkish TV show
According to a report on the Hurriyet Web site, a new Turkish TV show is set to air in September that will challenge holy people to convert atheists to their brand of godliness. The show, which is loosely translated as "Penitents Compete," will feature a "Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a Jewish rabbi... a Buddhist monk" and 10 atheists.

The holy folk will compete to see who can turn the most atheists into followers of their given religion. Their goal is to convert at least one non-believer each week. According to Ahmet Özdemir, Deputy Director of Kanal T which will air the new show, "'The project aims to turn disbelievers into [believers in] God.'"

The premise of the show, according to the report is that "[e]ach week, a different group of atheists will appear in front of the religious leaders. The producers of the show are well aware that there is a chance none of the atheists will be convinced by the arguments presented to them. Yet if an ex-atheist is 'persuaded' to start following one of the religions, he or she will have the chance to travel to that religion’s center, whether Jerusalem for Christians and Jews or Mecca for Muslims or Tibet for Buddhists." The main goal of producers for the show is to teach people about a variety of religions.

‘Churches of İstanbul’

‘Churches of İstanbul’
İstanbul is home to some of the most amazing churches in the world. The glory of the Hagia Sophia has been marveled at by visitors throughout the centuries, ever since Justinian exclaimed, “Solomon, I have surpassed you,” demonstrating his belief that this new church outshone the Temple of the Old Testament.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Since Iranian native Nasser Ghorbani fled to Turkey seven years ago, he has been unable to keep a job for more than a year – eventually his co-workers would ask why he didn’t come to the mosque on Fridays, and one way or another they’d learn that he was a convert to Christianity.

Soon thereafter he would be gone.

Never had anyone gotten violent with him, however, until three weeks ago, when someone at his workplace in Istanbul hit him on the temple so hard he knocked him out. When he came back to his senses, Ghorbani was covered in dirt, and his left eye was swollen shut. It hurt to breathe.

His whole body was in pain. He had no idea what had happened.

“I’ve always had problems at work in Turkey because I’m a Christian, but never anything like this,” Ghorbani told Compass.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Intolerance in Turkey

Survey: Neighborhood pressure is rare in Turkey, but intolerance is not
"although a majority of the respondents said diversity is an asset for societies, most respondents gave answers suggesting that there is widespread intolerance toward those who are different. Seventy-two percent said they wouldn't want to have neighbors who consumed alcohol, and 52 percent said they wouldn't like to have any Christian neighbors, while 64 percent said they wouldn't like to have Jewish neighbors. Sixty-six percent do not want irreligious people as neighbors, while 26 percent wouldn't like to have a neighbor of a different race. Unmarried couples, Americans, daughters who wear shorts and gay people are among the kinds of neighbors a majority of Turkish people said they would mind."

Saturday, May 30, 2009


rosecutors’ efforts to tie the murderers of three Christians here to state-linked masterminds were set back on Friday (May 22) when the alleged ring-leader unexpectedly contradicted his previous testimony implicating a suspected “middleman.” As the suspected middleman between the murderers and “deep state” elements, Huseyin Yelki, was testifying at Friday’s hearing, Emre Gunaydin – whose previous private testimony led to Yelki’s arrest – stood up and said, “Huseyin Yelki is not guilty, he’s being held in prison for no reason.” The prosecuting team and judges at the Malatya Third Criminal Court froze at the statement, and then demanded to know why he had previously implicated Yelki. Gunaydin said he did so because Yelki was a Christian missionary. Yelki testified during the court hearing that he had met Gunaydin only once prior to the murders. Gunaydin’s retraction raised suspicion among the judges that in recent months he has received visits in prison from those behind the murders who have pressured him to change his statement. Tired and frustrated, lead prosecutor Orhan Kemal Cengiz told Compass, “My conclusion is that we’re going nowhere, because the powers behind the scenes were very successful in organizing everything.”

Friday, May 22, 2009

Christian monastery in Turkey wins back land

Christian monastery in Turkey wins back land | World | Reuters
One of the world's oldest functioning Christian monasteries has won a legal battle to have land it had owned for centuries restored to it, after a Turkish court ruled on Friday it could not be claimed by the state.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Great Monastery of St. Gabriel in Captivity

The Great Monastery of St. Gabriel in Captivity |
A long-standing land dispute between the Syrian Orthodox community in south-east Turkey and the local villagers has finally turned into a legal battle attracting international attention. The disagreement has been closely monitored by the European Union for some time, and US President Barack Obama and the State Department are monitoring the dispute.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Christians urge Turkey to protect ancient monastery

Christians urge Turkey to protect ancient monastery
A leading Syriac Christian group urged Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday to protect a fifth-century Christian monastery in eastern Turkey from local officials claiming land the monastery has owned for centuries.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Arameans send letter to president, PM demanding rights

Arameans send letter to president, PM demanding rights
The Turabdin Solidarity Committee (Solidaritattsgruppe), an umbrella organization for the diaspora Arameans from Turkey, sent a letter to President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about the situation of Arameans in Turkey and asked to be treated in accordance with the Lausanne Treaty and auspices of the state.

In the letter, the Arameans also noted that the Prophet Jesus spoke in Aramaic and the state should give the permission and financial support for Aramaic language courses. The letter also underlined the concerns of the Arameans regarding the ongoing trial over the Mor Gabriel Monastery, which was constructed in A.D. 397.

Cyprus President: Turkey responsible for destruction of religious heritage News - Cyprus President: Turkey responsible for destruction of religious heritage
President of the Republic Demetris Christofias has said that Turkey is responsible to a great extent for the destruction of the cultural heritage in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus.

He was speaking during an exhibition in London’s Gallery K of 23 artists, including Cypriots and British, inspired by photographs of churches and other holy sites in the Turkish occupied north by Cypriot cameraman and photographer Doros Partasides. The photographs depict the destruction of the country’s religious and cultural heritage.

President Christofias congratulated Partasides and the 23 artists, describing their work as excellent. The government, he said, will use the exhibition in its campaign to put an end to the atrocities which are the result of the continuing Turkish invasion and occupation.

He said Turkey is greatly responsible for the destruction of the island’s heritage, stressing that the cultural heritage belongs not only to the Greek Cypriots but also to the Turkish Cypriots and the whole of humanity.

Report on Religious Freedom

‘Religious freedoms in Turkey curbed by hard-line secularism’
A report presented to US President Barack Obama has added Turkey to a watch list of countries where people's right to worship as they please or not to worship at all are at risk.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom said Turkey's problem was its interpretation of secularism, which has "resulted in violations of religious freedom for many of the country's citizens, including members of majority and, especially, minority religious communities."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Martyrs' Legacy: Hope for Christians in Turkey

Martyrs' Legacy: Hope for Christians in Turkey - Christian World News - CBN News
April 18 marks the second anniversary of one of the most brutal attacks against Christians in Turkey. Five men are on trial for the stabbing death of two Turkish Christians and a German. The outcome of the case could have an impact on the future of the country's tiny Christian community.

For Susanne Geske and her three young children it is sadly just another day of remembrance."You see everyday is April 18," Susanne Geske told CBN News during a recent visit to her home in Malatya. "Everyday I have to live without him.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Former police commander, university researcher, suspected ringleader’s father testify


Two years after the murder of three Christians in this city in southeastern Turkey, lawyers at a hearing here on Monday (April 13) uncovered important information on the role that local security forces played in the slaughter. At the 16th hearing of the murder case at the Malatya Third Criminal Court, plaintiff attorneys called a heavy slate of witnesses, including Mehmet Ulger, the gendarmerie commander of Malatya province during the 2007 slaughter who was arrested on March 12 for his alleged connection to a political conspiracy, and Ruhi Abat, a theology instructor at the local Ismet Inonu University. Two Turkish Christians, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, and a German Christian, Tilmann Geske, were tied up and stabbed to death at Zirve Publishing Co. offices on April 18, 2007. Plaintiff attorneys have moved the focus of the trial away from the five suspects – Salih Gurler, Cuma Ozdemir, Hamit Ceker, Abuzer Yildirim, and alleged ringleader Emre Gunaydin – to local officials believed to be liaisons or masterminds of the murders. The retired gendarmerie commander and the theology researcher have suspected links to the crime. In January an anonymous letter sent to Turkish churches and obtained by the media claimed that then-commander Ulger instigated the murders and directed Abat to prepare arguments against missionary activity.

Seven officers guilty of job dereliction

Seven officers guilty of job dereliction
Seven police officers receive a five-month suspended sentence each after being found guilty of dereliction of duty in the case where three people, one of whom was a German citizen, were found murdered in the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya for alleged missionary actions.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Fearing that a court-ordered fine of two Turkish Christians here for “illegal collection of funds” would set a precedent crippling to churches, their lawyer plans to take the case to a European court.

Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal each paid the fine of 600 Turkish lira (US$360) to a civil court in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul yesterday. The verdict cannot be appealed within the Turkish legal system, but their lawyer said he is considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The ruling refers to the men receiving church offerings without official permission from local civil authorities. Nearly all Protestant fellowships in Turkey are registered as associations, with very few having status as a recognized religious body, and a strict application of the law would limit the scope of churches collecting funds.

Although the punishment is a relatively small fine, their lawyer told Compass there is now a precedent that authorities could use to harass any church for collecting tithes and offerings.

“For now, this court decision is an individual decision, but we fear in the future this could be carried out against all churches,” said defense attorney Haydar Polat.

Defending the Faith

Turkey's Battle Over Christian Monastery Mor Gabriel -
Christians have lived in these parts since the dawn of their faith. But they have had a rough couple of millennia, preyed on by Persian, Arab, Mongol, Kurdish and Turkish armies. Each group tramped through the rocky highlands that now comprise Turkey's southeastern border with Iraq and Syria.

The current menace is less bellicose but is deemed a threat nonetheless. A group of state land surveyors and Muslim villagers are intent on shrinking the boundaries of an ancient monastery by more than half. The monastery, called Mor Gabriel, is revered by the Syriac Orthodox Church.

Battling to hang on to the monastic lands, Bishop Timotheus Samuel Aktas is fortifying his defenses. He's hired two Turkish lawyers -- one Muslim, one Christian -- and mobilized support from foreign diplomats, clergy and politicians.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Murder trial in Turkey reveals antipathy toward Christians

Mission Network News
According to Compass Direct, plaintiff attorneys have called in a heavy slate of witnesses for the next hearing, ranging from a gendarmerie commander to an Islamic theology instructor at a nearby university. Mehmet Ulger, the former gendarmerie commander of the province, and Ruhi Abat, a theology instructor at the local Inonu University, are among the 10 people expected to testify at the April 13 hearing.

What's been uncovered so far reveals a deep mistrust Christians in Turkey. The number of Christian believers declined from 22% to only .2% between 1900 and 2000, and most of these Christians are non-Turkish. The other 99.8% of the Turkish population is Muslim. Very few have ever heard the Gospel.

Behnan Konutgan with IN Network says that "identity mistrust" has been a challenge in their ministry.

There's a saying that goes: "To be a Turk is to be Muslim; to be Muslim is to be a Turk." Konutgan says often, when they're doing Christian work, they are asked, "Where are you from?" He often gets an incredulous response when he tells the person, "I am from here. I am Turkish.'" Their response: "You can't be! You're a Christian." It's a cultural assumption, along with the assumption that Christianity is a Western religion.

The problem is that many Turks get their idea of Christianity from Hollywood. With that misconception to confront, Konutgan says their team of four have to work carefully.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Defending the Faith

Turkey's Battle Over Christian Monastery Mor Gabriel -
Christians have lived in these parts since the dawn of their faith. But they have had a rough couple of millennia, preyed on by Persian, Arab, Mongol, Kurdish and Turkish armies. Each group tramped through the rocky highlands that now comprise Turkey's southeastern border with Iraq and Syria.

The current menace is less bellicose but is deemed a threat nonetheless. A group of state land surveyors and Muslim villagers are intent on shrinking the boundaries of an ancient monastery by more than half. The monastery, called Mor Gabriel, is revered by the Syriac Orthodox Church.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Court opposes religious teaching in schools

Turkey: Court opposes religious teaching in schools - Adnkronos Religion
A Turkish court on Tuesday reaffirmed an earlier ruling that religious education was not compulsory in schools. According to the Anatolian news agency, a court in the southern province of Antalya ruled in favour of a minority Alevi Muslim family who demanded that their daughter be exempt from participating in religious education at her primary school.

The local administration had said that only Christian and Jewish students should be exempt from participating in religious lessons under the law.

Turkish courts have ruled to stop compulsory religious education. The European Court of Justice also ruled against Turkey in a similar case.

"The ruling sets a precedent. Those wanting to be exempt from participating in compulsory religious lessons should file a suit," the student's lawyer Nusret Gurgoz told the Anatolian agency.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Malatya Film to Debut on 2 year anniversary

Malatya Film | Trailer

The Church in Turkey has asked for all those who care to set aside April 18th as a universal day of prayer for Turkey.  Consider using this film on that weekend to join with us in remembering Turkey.

Lawyers aim to uncover size, structure of ‘deep-state’ conspiracy

The identities of the middlemen linking the attackers and the alleged masterminds in the murder of three Christians in Malatya, Turkey are expected to take clearer focus following the latest hearing.

“These five troubled youths didn’t wake up one morning and decide to commit a murder – there were others directing them,” Ozkan Yucel, plaintiff attorney representing the families of the victims, told the Turkish press last week, before Friday’s (Feb. 20) hearing at the Malatya Third Criminal Court in southeastern Turkey.

Two Turkish Christians, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, and a German, Tilmann Geske, were tied up and stabbed to death at Zirve Publishing Co. offices on April 18, 2007. The last several hearings of the trial have supported suspicions that others were involved in the murder besides the five youths suspected of carrying out the attack. More difficult, however, is determining the scope of the murders and the organization of its conspirators.

Plaintiff attorneys have called in a heavy slate of witnesses for the next hearing, ranging from a gendarmerie commander to an Islamic theology instructor at a nearby university. Mehmet Ulger, the former gendarmerie commander of the province, and Ruhi Abat, a theology instructor at the local Inonu University, are among the 10 people expected to testify at the April 13 hearing.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Four in 10 women are beaten by their husbands, according to a recent study. Only a handful speak out.

This is an issue for your prayer and concern.  It affects the life and ministry of everyone living in Turkey.

Turkey's shocking domestic violence statistics | GlobalPost
A woman in the studio audience stands up and, with the spotlight highlighting her covered head, announces to the crowd that her husband abuses her but that she doesn't know how to react and still be a good Muslim.

The host of this popular Turkish TV show, “Islam in Our Life,” Professor Faruk Beser, is — from his trimmed mustache to his tailored suit — the image of a modern, successful Turkish man. But as he approaches the woman, his answer is far from progressive.

Looking her in the eye, Beser urges the woman to “carry this pain within you and keep living with your husband,” prescribing constant prayer over divorce, and reminding the woman of the rewards she will receive in heaven for her suffering.

What is shocking about this scene is not so much the reaction of the host, a man known for his conservative interpretation of Islam in a country that is 99 percent Muslim, but rather that the woman had the courage to speak up at all.

Four out of 10 women in Turkey are beaten by their husbands, according to the recent study entitled "Domestic Violence against Women in Turkey,” which has collected the first official statistics on this topic in Turkey. Even more disturbing, the study reveals that a significant number of abused women, almost 90 percent, do not seek help from any organization.

“This is such a silent problem that most people don’t believe you when you give them the numbers,” said Henriette Jansen, team leader of the study, which was conducted by the General Directorate of the Status of Women (KSGM). "It shows how much women suffer alone and the huge stigma attached to violence against women.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Second attack within one week follows threats from Muslim nationalists

Following threats from Muslim nationalists, a Turkish Bible Society bookshop in the southern city of Adana was vandalized for the second time in a week on Thursday (Feb. 12).

Security camera footage shows two youths attacking the storefront of the Soz Kitapevi bookshop, kicking and smashing glass in both the window and the door. The door frame was also damaged.

Bookshop employee Dogan Simsek discovered the damage when he arrived to open the shop. He described security footage of the attack, which took place at 8:19 a.m., to Compass.

“They came at it like a target,” he said. “They attacked in a very cold-blooded manner, and then they walked away as if nothing had happened.”

The security camera did not clearly capture the faces of either youth, and police are still attempting to identify the perpetrators.

During the first attack on Feb. 7, the glass of the front door was smashed and the security camera mangled. Both have since been repaired.

Simsek told the Turkish national daily Milliyet that these are the first such incidents he has witnessed in the 10 years he has worked there.

“We sit and drink tea with our neighbors and those around us; there are no problems in that regard,” said Simsek, though he did acknowledge that local opinion is not all favorable. “This is a Muslim neighborhood, and many have told us not to sell these books.”

The bookshop has received threats from both Muslim hardliners and nationalists. Last November, a man entered the shop and began making accusations that the Soz Kitapevi bookshop was in league with the CIA, saying, “You work with them killing people in Muslim countries, harming Muslim countries.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Harmonizing difference through sound of music

Harmonizing difference through sound of music
Faced with a world filled with disunity, a group of musicians are attempting to translate the tolerance of their religiously diverse homeland of Antioch into song.

Harmonizing difference through sound of music In pearly white robes from neck to foot, the homogeneity of color in the 40-strong choir is broken only by the easily overlooked Kipahs sprouting unobtrusively around Hijab-crowned faces.

Violins and cellos string alongside Baglamas (traditional Turkish Bandolins), as wooden Meys (flutes) and stable Kanuns (harps) pluck the time alongside ancient and modern drums. Above the din, the easily recognizable sounds of Hallelujah, Hava Nagila and Dertli-Dertli can be discerned. Overall a potentially confusing arrangement, were it not for the harmony and enthusiasm of the singers.

The Antakya Chorus of Civilizations is not an embarrassing accident of conference planning, but a refreshingly hopeful and purposeful organization. Caroling only religious songs, the group is composed of representatives of the sacred city’s six main religions and aims to show that they can Ğ international stereotypes to the contrary Ğ live, and prosper, alongside one another. The three Abrahamic faiths are further divided along regional cultural and historic lines: Islam splits into Alevi and Sunni, while Christianity fragments into Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox and Armenian, divisions largely invisible during their energetic performance at the Emitt tourism fair Thursday in Istanbul.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Turkey attended US biggest belief tourism fair

World Bulletin [ Turkey attended US biggest belief tourism fair ]
Turkey participated in the biggest belief tourism fair in the United States.

Turkey hired a stand in the "National Religious Broadcasters" (NRB) Convention and Exposition organized in Nashville between February 7 and 11, Turkey's Culture & Promotion Attache's Office in New York said.

Turkish Airlines, and tour operators including Rainbow Tours and Netours participated in the fair, a statement of the attache's office said.

Turkey promoted its belief tourist attractions like St. Paul Church in the southern town of Antakya, and Ephesus ancient city, distributed booklets, and served baklava (a Turkish dessert) in the fair.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ninth suspect charged over publishing house murders in Turkey

A Turkish court on Monday charged a ninth man on suspicion of instigating the crime of murdering three Christians in the country's east in 2007.

Seven young men are already standing trial for the killing of German missionary Tilmann Geske and Turkish converts Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel in the offices of a Christian publishing house in the eastern city of Malatya in April 2007.

The latest suspect, Huseyin Yelki, was jailed pending trial Monday after Aral implicated him in his testimony, the Anatolian Agency reported.

Turkish bishop reflects on glorious Christian past, challenging present

In an interview published in L’Osservatore Romano, Bishop Luigi Padovese, vicar apostolic of Anatolia and president of the Episcopal Conference of Turkey, recalled the nation’s glorious Christian past: the Church there dates to the preaching of St. Paul, and as recently as 1927, 20% of Turks were Christian. Today, 99.8% of the nation’s 72 million residents are Muslim; only 0.05% are Catholic.

Church of Norway to Send Two Observers to Assyrian Monastery Trial in Turkey

Church of Norway to Send Two Observers to Assyrian Monastery Trial in Turkey
Two Church of Norway representatives will be present at a court case regarding the future of one of the world's most ancient monasteries, Mar Gabriel in Eastern Turkey.

This week, on Wednesday 11 February 2009, the future of the ancient Syrian Orthodox monastery Mar Gabriel, with traditions back to the fifth century, will be determined. It is located near Midyat in Eastern Turkey.

Ancient Bible Written in Syriac Found in Cyprus

Ancient Bible Written in Syriac Found in Cyprus|
An ancient Bible written in Syriac, a dialect of Jesus’ native language, was found in Cyprus earlier this month.

Turkish Cypriot police who performed a raid on suspected antiquity smugglers had found the Scriptures in the northern Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus, according to Reuters. The police testified in court that they believe the ancient holy text could be as old as 2,000 years.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

New suspect charged over Christian murders

News - Europe: New suspect charged over Christian murders
A Turkish court on Tuesday charged a new suspect over the 2007 murders of three Christians in the country's east on suspicion that he instigated the crime, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Seven young men are already on trial over the killing of German missionary Tilmann Geske and Turkish converts Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel in the offices of a Christian publishing house in the city of Malatya in April 2007.

The new suspect, Varol Bulent Aral, was charged with "being the leader of a terrorist organisation" and "the murder of more than one person as part of the organisation's activities" after he was named by a defendant as the instigator.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Virginia Man to Search for Noah's Ark in Turkey - Virginia Man to Search for Noah's Ark in Turkey - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News
It's one of the most familiar Bible stories.

Saddened by the wickedness of man, God directs the righteous Noah to build an ark for his family and two of each species of animal.

Together, they ride the ark through 40 days and 40 nights of torrential rains that God unleashes upon the Earth. And when the waters subside, Noah and the animals return to land.

"That seems almost like a fairy story," said archaeologist Randall Price, who is director of Liberty University's new Center for Judaic Studies. "But we believe it was an actual event."

This summer Price, 57, plans to continue on a journey to prove just that as he joins an expedition to Mount Ararat. His team believes that it is there, in Eastern Turkey, where Noah's Ark remains preserved underneath layers of rubble and ice.

"Do not say even a single word that might somehow provoke people, although you may speak with good intentions."

Top religion official steps in to soothe concerns of Turkish Jews
The Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate issued a notice to imams asking them to urge common sense be shown to Jewish citizens amid reactions against Israel over the recent Gaza operations, Hurriyet daily reported on Monday.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Lawyers expand case in Turkey murder trial

Mission Network News
Lawyers in the case of three Christians in Turkey who were murdered for their faith are lining up witnesses in an effort to expand the accused from five young suspects to subversive forces at the top of state power, according to Compass Direct.

Evidence in recent hearings suggests the April 2007 murders in southeast Turkey were instigated by Ergenekon, a loose collection of ultra-nationalist generals, businessmen, mafia and journalists who planned to engineer a coup d'état in Turkey.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

European Parliamentarians Call on Turkey to Protect Assyrian Monastery

European Parliamentarians Call on Turkey to Protect Assyrian Monastery
ast week the Parliamentary Assembly of the council of Europe held its plenary session. MP's from 47 countries (including all EU countries, Russia and Turkey) debated the state of Human Rights in Europe. During this session Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt took the initiave to raise the question of the St. Gabriel Assyrian Monastery in Turkey.

In conjunction with 23 other MPs, Mr. Omtzigt made a motion for a resolution which "calls on Turkish authorities not to take away ownership of grounds with wrong pretexts and with potential irreparable consequences for this world's cultural heritage and on one of the foremost places of religious worship in Turkey. The Assembly sees this as a test for the exercise of freedom of religion in Turkey and decides to follow this issue carefully."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

FACTBOX: Christians in Turkey

FACTBOX: Christians in Turkey | International | Reuters
Turkey is overwhelmingly Muslim but hosts several ancient Christian communities -- dwindling remnants of sizeable populations that prospered for centuries in the Muslim-led but multi-ethnic, multi-faith Ottoman Empire.

They include Syriac Christians, Greek Orthodox, Armenians and Catholics. Modern Turkey was founded as a secular republic by Kemal Mustafa Ataturk on the empire's ashes in 1923.

Here are some details about Christians in Turkey:


-- At the beginning of World War One, Christians still made up 20 percent of the population. However in May 1915, Ottoman commanders began mass deportation of Armenians from eastern Turkey thinking they might assist Russian invaders.

-- Thousands were marched from the Anatolian borders toward Syria and Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and Armenians say some 1.5 million died either in massacres or from starvation or deprivation as they were marched through the desert. There are some 70,000 Armenians left in Turkey. Turkey says large numbers of both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks were killed during the violent and chaotic break-up of the Ottoman Empire. The number of Christians has now fallen to around 100,000 in a total population of more than 70 million.

Click the link above to keep reading . . .

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fethullah Gülen's Grand Ambition Turkey's Islamist Danger

200901123303 | Fethullah Gülen's Grand Ambition Turkey's Islamist Danger | / | Global Terrorism
Today, despite the rhetoric of European Union accession, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has turned Turkey away from Europe and toward Russia and Iran and reoriented Turkish policy in the Middle East away from sympathy toward Israel and much more toward friendship with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria. Anti-American, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic sentiments have increased. Behind Turkey's transformation has been not only the impressive AKP political machine but also a shadowy Islamist sect led by the mysterious hocaefendi (master lord) Fethullah Gülen; the sect often bills itself as a proponent of tolerance and dialogue but works toward purposes quite the opposite. Today, Gülen and his backers (Fethullahcılar, Fethullahists) not only seek to influence government but also to become the government.


A judge in Turkey sentenced a 19-year-old Muslim to four-and-a-half years in prison on Jan. 5 for stabbing a Catholic priest in the coastal city of Izmir in December 2007.

Ramazan Bay, then 17, had met with Father Adriano Franchini, a 65-year-old Italian and long-term resident of Turkey, after expressing an interest in Christianity following mass at St. Anthony church. During their conversation, Bay became irritated and pulled out a knife, stabbing the priest in the stomach.

Fr. Franchini was hospitalized but released the next day as his wounds were not critical.

Bay, originally from Balikesir 90 miles north of Izmir, reportedly said he was influenced by an episode of the TV serial drama “Kurtlar Vadisi” (“Valley of the Wolves”). The series caricatures Christian missionaries as political “infiltrators” who pay poor families to convert to Christianity.

“Valley of the Wolves” also played a role in a foiled attack on another Christian leader in December 2007. Murat Tabuk reportedly admitted under police interrogation that the popular ultra-nationalist show had inspired him to plan the murder of Antalya pastor Ramazan Arkan. The plan was thwarted, with the pastor receiving armed police protection and Antalya’s anti-terrorism police bureau ordering plainclothes guards to accompany him.

Together with 20 other Protestant church leaders, Arkan on Dec. 3, 2007 filed a formal complaint with the Istanbul State Prosecutor’s office protesting “Valley of the Wolves” for “presenting them as a terrorist group and broadcasting scenes making them an open target.”

Monday, January 05, 2009

Turkey Teaches anti-Christian Discrimination

Turkey Teaches anti-Christian Discrimination |
Turkey’s Ministry of Education has introduced a school text book which encourages discrimination of the country’s small Christian community, despite growing international concern over increasing violence against non-Muslims in Turkey.

The book, Primary Education, History of Republic Reforms and Atatürkizm, Lesson Book 8, is aimed at thirteen year olds and was published this year by Devlet [State] Books. The controversial text describes missionary activity as a threat to national unity by destroying national and cultural values through converting people to another religion.

Turkish youth convicted of stabbing priest

Turkish youth convicted of stabbing priest - International Herald Tribune
A Turkish court has convicted a youth of stabbing a Catholic priest last year and sentenced him to 4 1/2 years in prison.

The court in the Aegean port city of Izmir on Monday found 19-year-old Ramazan Bay guilty of stabbing and wounding Adriano Franchini in December 2007.

The attack on the Italian priest was one of a string of hate attacks against Christians in Turkey in 2006 and 2007.