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.