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."