Monday, January 31, 2005

Protestant Proselytizers

"The missionaries are trying to fill the “spiritual void” left by the youths' ignorance about the basic tenets and rituals of Islam, according to the report.

The proselytizers are playing on pitting the Sunnis and the `Alawiyyin against one another to preach about the Christian faith, the report added."

"Of the converters, 185 Muslims have officially changed their religion to Christianity over the past three years and only one to Judaism, the report added.

No law explicitly prohibits proselytizing or religious conversions in Turkey. Many prosecutors and police, however, regard proselytizing and religious activism with suspicion, especially when such activities are deemed to have political overtones, according to the daily."

Islam Online- News Section

There is still room for progress in human rights improvements

'Press freedom, freedom of religion and respect for minorities in the country remain far from perfect -- but show continued improvement'

"As for the torture issue, Turkish authorities also appear to have been paying close attention to eradicating torture and ill treatment in police stations. While speaking at a conference, Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu said they are carrying on their policy of showing zero tolerance towards instances of torture and recorded significant successes in such implementation."
Turkish Daily News: "rel"

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Bush haters in Turkey: Conning conservatives

"UPI International Editor Claude Salhani describes a startling assertion by a Turkish commentator. "We perceive George W. Bush like Osama bin Laden," Beyza Bilgin, a theology professor at Ankara University, is quoted as declaring, "Both think they have a mission [from God]."
Since Mr. Bilgin used the pronoun "we," the comment appears to convey a common point of view among Turks. Yet, as a Turk I strongly disagree."

"What bothers me more, however, is Mr. Bilgin's second statement, i.e., that assuming a mission from God puts someone in the same category as terrorists. That is simply absurd. In fact, many great men and women of faith have believed in a God-given mission, and they were far from being akin to al Qaeda operatives. In the modern world, there are many passionate believers who simiarly feel they are chosen by God but don't possess a violent agenda at all.

Actually, this should be common knowledge. One wonders, though, how this cannot be grasped by otherwise rational people. The problem may not with their rational faculties, but rather with their agenda."

". . . the local "Bush haters" in question depict the U.S. as a deadly enemy of Turkey and the Islamic world, which is a disastrous misconception. It not only feeds terrorism and conflict, but stifles what Muslims can learn from America.
Let me add that Americans often say Turkey is a model for other Muslim nations. I have appreciated that sentiment and should like to return the compliment. America is also a model for Muslim nations, because it presents a powerful testimony to the compatibility of deeply held religious belief and modern life."
Forum: Bush haters in Turkey: Conning conservatives - The Washington Times: Commentary - January 23, 2005

Saturday, January 22, 2005

'Why Muslim Turkey When There is Christian Ukraine?'

There is a new movement in the EU, pro-Ukraine and anti-Turkey.

"One EP member asked, "While 40 million Christians are waiting at our door, why would we start negotiations with Turkey?" while another member brought a comparison to the agenda saying that on one side, a country like Ukraine, with 100 percent of its lands in Europe, has not even been given a membership perspective while negotiations will begin with Turkey, which has only five percent of its lands in Europe."

The Journal of Turkish Weekly

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Nearly two million Muslim pilgrims flock to city of tents

This holiday also represents the time when people travel to Mecca to find acceptance from God by doing one of the works they believe he requires of them.

"Nearly two million Muslim faithful from across the globe were preparing Tuesday to spend the night in a city of tents in a valley close to Mecca on the first leg of the annual hajj journey."

"After performing the ritual symbolizing the Last Judgement on Mount Arafat, the pilgrims will return to Mecca on Thursday, the first day of Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice.

Most will sacrifice an animal, generally a sheep, in remembrance of Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son to God.

On Friday and Saturday, they will return to Mina to stone the "jamarat", or three pillars symbolizing the devil -- the ultimate but also the most dangerous ritual."

"All Muslims are required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the five pillars of Islam, at least once in their lifetime if they have the means to do so."

Nearly two million Muslim pilgrims flock to city of tents

Celebrating the Great Festival of the Sacrifice

More information on the Sacrifice holiday that begins tomorrow. Remember to pray throughout the next few days that they will be drawn to the ultimate sacrifice.

"Those who believe in Islam are enjoined to follow five pillars. These are a statement that there is no other god but Allah and Muhammed is the messenger of God; prayer; giving alms; fasting and the pilgrimage.

The pilgrimage probably wasn't incorporated into Islam until three or four years had passed and it became obligatory for a Muslim at least once in his lifetime to visit Mecca"

"The meaning of the sacrifice was Ibrahim's willingness to slay his son at the will of Allah and the believer had to be willing to give up what he held dearest. It is seen as a refusal on the part of Muslims to engage in idolatrous sacrifice, an offering of thanksgiving to Allah and a reminder to share whatever blessings one had with others who aren't as well off as they are. Since these sacrifices are carried out throughout the world at the same time, it has a unifying effect for Muslims everywhere that they are participating in a joint ceremony and celebration."
Turkish Daily News

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

"24" Making Nice with Muslims

Turkish terrorists on TV? - Not without a disclaimer

"Jack Bauer's going to have to call in the reinforcements to get through this one."

"Facing heat over how Muslims are depicted in its countdown thriller series 24, Fox is working to mend fences before time's up.

The latest season of the Fox drama, which kicked off a week ago, stars Kiefer Sutherland as special agent Bauer. His latest race against the clock to save the world from terrorism has angered America's Muslim community by its portrayal of a Muslim family as a sleeper cell at the heart of a dastardly plot."
Yahoo! News - "24" Making Nice with Muslims

Monday, January 17, 2005

Technology enbraces worship

Christians aren't the only ones who get gadget happy.

"The selling of devices for reciting the rosary, a compass showing the direction of Mecca, a clock that plays azan and another device for memorizing the Koran are proving very popular in Konya. Over the last six years, these devices have sold six times more than traditional books for learning namaz and the Koran.

The electronic devices, which are made in China, are being sold in practically all gift shops in Konya and the six months running up to the annual pilgrimage to Mecca sales exploded."

"Our religion allows development. The way of praying is not important, the important thing is, if it is performed or not. These devices are good if they help generalize praying."
Turkish Daily News

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Powerful Turkish fellowship threads careful path

"For certain secular-minded Turks, they believe in their bones that religion is backward and holds back society. Gulen is seen as offering a way to merge the two, says expert on Islam"

"There doesn't seem to be much separating the politics of secular Turkey's leaders and an Islamic-oriented movement built around a preacher, author and mystic scholar named Fethullah Gulen. Both promote Western-style enterprise and education. They denounce Muslim radicals and agree on Turkey's main goal: European Union membership. So why has Gulen moved into self-exile in the United States after facing charges of seeking an Islamic-style regime in his homeland?"
Turkish Daily News

Tsunami was all Allah's doing

Some superstisious Muslim clerics have an interesting take on the tsunami.

"For Fawzan al-Fawzan, on the other hand, a Saudi professor who preaches sermons on a religious satellite television channel, al-Majd, no struggle with his beliefs was required. Far from it: for him the deaths of 150,000 merely proves the existence of a munificent God."

"Some of our forefathers said that if there is usury and fornication in a certain village, Allah permits its destruction," he told the faithful on December 31 while the rest of the world was extending sympathy and aid to the victims. "We know that at these resorts that unfortunately exist in Islamic and other countries in South Asia, and especially at Christmas, fornication and sexual perversion of all kinds are rampant."
Telegraph | Opinion | Tsunami was all Allah's doing

Kurban Bayram is celebrated this week in Turkey

It begins this Wednesday. Please pray for the Muslim world during this time as their attention is focused on God more than usual.

"On this day Muslims sacrifice animals which have been deemed Halaal, or fit for sacrifice. They not only eat the meat themselves but distribute it amongst their neighbours, relatives and the poor and hungry."

"The charitable instincts of the Muslim community are demonstrated during Eid ul-Adha by the concerted effort to see that no impoverished Muslim is left without sacrificial food during this day. Coming immediately after the Day of Arafat (when the prophet Muhammad pronounced the final seal on the religion of Islam), Eid ul-Adha gives concrete realisation to what the Muslim community ethic means in practice."

Eid ul-Adha - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friday, January 14, 2005

Religious Freedom Is Not Perfectly Respected in Muslim Country

"A group of deputies, concerned about Turkey's respect for human rights, proposed an amendment asking Ankara to grant legal status immediately to the Christian churches present in the country; to abolish the Religious Affairs Office, a rigid body of control of worship; and to authorize the construction of new buildings."

"This is a serious defect in the area of human rights, particularly in regard to religious freedom," a right "that is the basis of all other rights," he said.

"If there is no respect for the human person's innermost conscience and his capacity to express this faith publicly and communally, namely, in institutions, then truly the other human rights begin to totter," the cardinal said.

"So I think it is very important to make it very clear to Turkey that it must take positive steps in this area and, particularly, in religious freedom, which is not perfectly respected in this state," he added."
Zenit News Agency - The World Seen From Rome

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Battlefield lull, bid for EU spark Christian rebirth in southeastern Turkey

"Nine-year-old Ninua Saliba played hide-and-seek outside a 7th century church as village men drank tea, chatted in a language similar to Jesus' and waited for a Christmas visit by the local Turkish governor.
The politician's stop and the calm in the ancient village would have been inconceivable just a few years ago when the tiny Christian community in southeastern Turkey was caught in the middle of fighting between Turkish troops and Kurdish rebels.

But a sharp decrease in fighting, and Turkey's focus on democracy and human rights as it seeks to join the European Union, are boosting hopes that one of the world's oldest Christian communities can rebuild itself in its spiritual heartland."

Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc.

Whirling Dervish statue arouses controversy in Istanbul

"A project to build a giant statue of a whirling dervish on an island off the coast of Istanbul is causing controversy between those who say it symbolizes the values of Turkey's largest city and others who think it will be a blot on the landscape, newspapers said Wednesday.

Kadir Topbas, the mayor of Istanbul and a member of the ruling Justice and Development party, which has Islamic roots, wants the 110-meter (361-foot) statue to be erected on Sivriada, an uninhabited island in the Marmara Sea, with a mosque, a church and a synagogue at its base. Turkey's Christian and Jewish minorities are mostly to be found in Istanbul."

Whirling Dervish statue arouses controversy in Istanbul

What's Wrong with Turkey? by Gamaliel Issac

"In my previous article, Turkey's Dark Past I exposed the falseness of the claims of Mustafa Akyol that “Turkey has had an Islamic heritage free of anti-Westernism and anti-Semitism” Mr. Akyol wrote a rebuttal, What’s Right With Turkey, in which he argued that the Turks have a great record when it comes to the Jews and that when the Jews were expelled from Spain, they were welcomed by the Sultan."
FrontPage :: What's Wrong with Turkey? by Gamaliel Issac

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Turkish imams' EU peace move

"More than 1,000 moderate clerics have been dispatched to European countries by Turkey, the only Muslim candidate member of the EU, in a drive to promote modern and peaceful interpretations of Islam."

"Our mission is to explain Islam as a source of peace and friendship and certainly not as a tool for violence," said Ali Bardakoglu, who heads Turkey's directorate of religious affairs, or diyanet.

"There are 70,000 imams in Turkey. One of our biggest priorities now is to educate imams, teach them foreign languages, to equip them to go abroad." Mr Bardakoglu said the campaign aimed to prevent extremism and aid integration of the estimated 4 million ethnic Turks in the EU."

"Professor Bardakoglu acknowledged that firebrand clerics, with little formal religious education, posed a problem for Muslim communities. Some, he said, fostered intolerant fundamentalism."
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Turkish imams' EU peace move

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Media Persecution

Leading up to this month's religious holiday, Kurban Bayram, we have seen an upswing in interest and and criticism of the christian movement in Turkey. From a CNN Turkey special report to small articles in many of the papers, the attention of the people is on the Church in Turkey. Please pray that God would use this for His Glory and the growth of His Church. Pray for protection for the groups of believers all over this country.


The Armenian press has a lot to say about Turkey:

"Even though the Armenian communities of Europe did everything in their power to make the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the opening of the border with Armenia pre-conditions for Turkey’s membership, the EU did not include these requests in its agreement with Turkey for the start of the talks. The 25 heads of the EU member states, not only ignored the Armenian issues, but more significantly, they did not demand the withdrawal of the Turkish occupying forces from Cyprus -- the territory of an EU member state!"

"It remains to be seen whether the Turks can dupe the Europeans into accepting them into the EU more than 10 years from now, by simply making a lot of cosmetic changes in their laws and giving the appearance of complying with all the EU requirements. Of course, the Turks could also face a rude awakening. If 10 years from now the Turkish troops are still occupying Cyprus, there would be practically no chance that Turkey would be admitted to the EU. The Cypriots would certainly use their veto then."

AZG Armenian Daily

Sunday, January 09, 2005

We are not Likely to Lose our Religion

"I am following with great interest the reactions to the revival in missionary activities in Turkey by Protestant evangelists."

"Do the evangelist missionaries have a chance of success in Turkey? The activities of Protestant missionaries in Turkey are not something new. Christian missionaries conducted widespread activities in Anatolia during the 19th century. They could not, however, achieve any notable success among the Christian subjects, let alone the Muslims, although the empire was going through its most difficult years. Christian missionaries were able only succeeded to create tiny Protestant communities among Gregorian Armenians, Catholics and Orthodox Arabs. Today evangelists may also succeed in converting small groups of people in various regions of Turkey."

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Turkey Encourages Assyrian Christians to Return under EU Pressure

"Turkey is being requested to reinforce religious freedom and human rights as a condition of entering the EU. According to the Associated Press, under the pressure of the EU, Turkey has invited the ancient Turkish Christian community to return to the country."

"An EU report in October said "very few" Assyrians have returned due to harassment by pro-government Kurdish militiamen and paramilitary police.

According to the Associated Press, a sign at the entrance to Haberli for Assyrian Christian proclaims that "The motherland is a whole and cannot be divided - a tacit warning to Kurdish rebels and anyone else seeking separate status."

Turkey, which faces European pressure to return displaced villagers to the region and to grant more rights to minorities, is encouraging thousands of Assyrians to come back, and dozens have returned, Assyrians say. Governor Osman Gunes' visit to Assyrian towns and monasteries underlined the new spirit."
ChristianToday > Turkey Encourages Assyrian Christians to Return under EU Pressure

Christians flee genocide as fear sweeps Iraq

Pray for protection of the innocents in Iraq, along with our troops. Many cultural and real Christians are being exterminated.

"Anti-Christian graffiti was daubed on church walls and inflammatory CDs sold in the market. Regular gun attacks began in Christian areas of the city, with several priests kidnapped and told that, as Christians, they were on the side of the American invaders.

"We were used to living in hell," said Mr Sliwa. Then a neighbour told him that his two sons had been killed by the latest attack. "My son's car was 300 metres away. They were slumped in their seats, covered in blood," he said. "The terrorists had shot at any car in the neighbourhood, knowing they would kill Christians."

Telegraph | News | Christians flee genocide as fear sweeps Iraq

Fallujah, Execution in Mosques and the Rest

More rhetoric from our local Inquirer:

"To understand what is going on in the aftermath of September 11th in a wider angle in Fallujah it is important to know the thought and belief structures of Christian Zionists dominating US now with the aim of US world hegemony. Understanding the pure brutality of with the execution of a wounded man in a Fallujah mosque, and what has been going on at Abu Ghraib prison, requires knowledge of the following: (1) The historic attitude developed against Islam and Muslim based on grudges and revenge; (2) methods of physiological war."

"Islam is a religion, which contains all former celestial religions and includes believing their prophets, books among basic beliefs; therefore, it is a receptive and receiving religion. This is the reason why the Jewish and Christians live in prosperity and protect their religions as well as their existence under the dominance of its history. On the contrary, Judaism not only refused Christianity and Islam as it has in the past but also developed as a reactionary religion against them and gradually turned into a racist ideology. Although Christianity emerged as basically a religion of love and clemency, it again partially became a religion of reaction against Islam by refusing to accept Islam that came after Christianity and with the large expansion of Islam despite itself. In reactionary movements, anger, grudge, hatred, and exclusion are essential. The reason for the US' attempted occupation of Islamic world since September 11th, which has the characteristic or at least potential of becoming a "War of Armageddon" against Muslims in its original form mentioned in Jewish and Christian resources. The illegal and inhumane treatment in Iraq is just the historical reaction to hatred against Islam and Muslims."


Friday, January 07, 2005

Turkish Nationalists Gatecrash Orthodox Christian Celebration

"Turkish nationalists chanting slogans and waving the flag of an extreme right-wing party Thursday tried to disrupt a Greek Orthodox religious ceremony here called the benediction of the waters of the Bosporus, eyewitnesses said."

"Some 60 nationalists interrupted the proceedings waving flags of the National Action Party (MHP) and chanting: "This is Turkey here, like it or leave it."
Turkish Nationalists Gatecrash Orthodox Christian Celebration

Thursday, January 06, 2005

What's Next for Turkey: The Marathon?

"Truly, there is hardly a Muslim country that even comes close to Turkey in its unswerving commitment to secularize, westernize and modernize. The history of westernization in Turkey portrays the features characteristic of this movement everywhere else, only perhaps more clearly. In the last half of the 18th century, Ottoman Turks were the first Muslim nation to adopt European inventions, such as Military techniques and printing, a process followed, in the course of the 19th century by the reforms of the Ottoman administrative and legal system on western patterns."

"But the more important question is: what did the secular leadership really achieve for Turkey after some 96 years of effectively running the nation? Did westernization make Turkey any better? Has it narrowed the gap with Europe?

Turkish society is surely more urbanized than ever before, with major cities that resemble many European cities. Of all the Muslim nation states, she also (probably) has the most educated populace. Yet her GDP per capita income is estimated at $6700, only about a third of the original EU member nations.[2] The number of talented Turks leaving the country is more than those returning home."
Home / Articles / What's Next for Turkey: The Marathon? - Media Monitors Network (MMN)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

'Rid Islamic Ignorence, Influenced Less by Missionaries'

"Director General of the World Ehl-i Beyt Association, Fermani Altun, said that it is not possible to prevent missionary activity with laws or pressure.

Altun, stressing that one should inform the people about their beliefs, continued: "There is a great ignorance about Islamic science and history. Our youth is not sufficiently able to learn Islam, which leads them to be lost in a spiritual gap. Henceforth, the gap is filled by seperate faith groups and missioners".

He added, "The associations that care about Islamic unity and brotherhood need support. In short, I do not think that missionaries can be prevented by using either bans or pressure. If our people learn what to believe, they will not be lost in a gap, and influenced by missionaries"."


Protestant Churches: Our Activities have Nothing to Do with EU

"A spokesperson for the Protestant Churches Association, Isa Karatas, reacted against claims regarding missionary activities in Turkey.

"Everybody talks according to his own mind" Karatas added yesterday, "Our activities have nothing to do with the European Union (EU) process. We had continued our activities, talking about our religion before the EU process. We do not understand the EU process to be another opportunity. We support EU membership for the benefit of Turkey. Not for the benefit of ourselves."

Karatas contended that just because some people converted to Christianity does not mean the country has lost. Those who have become Christian, Karatas claimed, love their country much more than the others."

Monday, January 03, 2005

In Turkey, no more 4 million lira lattes

"At midnight on New Year's Eve, Turkey ceased to be the land of the millionaires and billionaires.

That is when the government dropped six zeros from the national currency and Turkey lost the dubious distinction of being the country with the largest denomination in circulation, the 20,000,000 lira, worth only about $15."

"The Turkish lira has been like funny money … and now at least in cosmetic terms it will look like a real currency," said Tevfik Aksoy, chief economist in Turkey for Deutsche Bank."

St. Paul Pioneer Press | 01/03/2005 | In Turkey, no more 4 million lira lattes

Why do EU Leaders go to Diyarbakir?

"Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's (later retracted) statements that the "EU cannot meddle in our domestic affairs. We are Turks… We decide for ourselves!" in response to mounting EU objections to the initiative to re-criminalize adultery, were simply incredible and totally incompatible with the concept of being European."

"Prime minister's involvement in the public debate as to whether "Alevism is a separate religion or a culture?" was also highly inappropriate. If Turkey is to become a truly secular state where religion and state are separated, then surely, this question can only be answered by Alevis themselves."

"Is the prime minister a religious authority or a statesman? Even if he was a religious authority, that would not give him the right to interfere with the beliefs of Muslims who believe in the offering of votives? It is evident that Mr Prime Minister's behavior was not at all consistent with his complaints as a politician concerning interference in people's religious beliefs."

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Turkish fellowship threads careful path with leader across the Atlantic

"The ailing, 66-year-old Gulen — who's been described as a cross between missionary, mogul and freelance diplomat — says Turks can embrace Islam, Western values and nationalism. But he adds a twist that collides with Turkey's secular codes: Islamic culture and perspectives should be given equal weight and freedom of expression alongside Western-leaning views."

"The state turned its worries into an indictment, accusing Gulen of quietly plotting an Islamic groundswell by gaining followers in high places and "brainwashing" school children. In March 2003, Gulen was cleared under an amnesty but he had already left for medical treatment in the United States in 1999. He has no immediate plans to return, he's told Turkish media."

Times Argus

If and when Turkey Joins the European Union

"Probably one of the most significant changes will be the higher cognition of the value of time. It will become important not to "waste" or use more time than necessary to perform any given function. Turkey and most of the Islamic and developing countries are often described as the "Inshallah (God Willing), Bukra (Tomorrow), Ma'alesh (Never mind)" or IBM societies whose motto is the following: You do things if God wills; you do them tomorrow rather than today; and if you do not do them at all, it does not matter. As a result, responsibility is put on God rather than on the doer; actions are postponed for convenience; and the failure to act goes unaccounted for."

Arabic Media Internet Network

What draws us in?

"There is something transcendent and awe-full about a catastrophe as monstrous as this, and we can't resist it"

"There is something transcendent and awe-full about catastrophe. An event like this, in which more than 100,000 people are killed and many more afflicted, shatters our everyday picture of reality and exposes the tenuous purchase of all truth claims.

A few years ago, a high Turkish official put it elegantly. "All ideological arguments," he was quoted as saying in The New York Times, "were flattened by the earthquake." - Opinion

Saturday, January 01, 2005

'Dialogue Between Religions is a Must'

An interview with a respected Muslim scholar:

"Dialogue between religions is not disadvantageous; on the contrary, it is a necessary. It seems unlikely that Muslims will be able to solve their problems if they do not turn from poverty towards development, from ignorance towards science, from bigotry towards tolerance for all. There are no obstacles to dialogue with other religions as long as we do not compromise our own. Many in the West don't view Islam according to books, but according to the current situation of Muslims."


Protestant Proselytizers Eye 10% of Turks

It looks like they are starting to get worried.

"Protestant missionaries are planning to proselytize some 10 per cent of Turkey's 70 million population by 2020, the Turkish army warned in a report published Friday, December 31.

Up to one million gospels are planned to be distributed among the Turkish people during this period, Turkish daily Zaman reported Friday, citing the “Proselytizing Activities in Turkey and the World” report.

The missionaries are trying to fill the “spiritual void” left by the youths' ignorance about the basic tenets and rituals of Islam, according to the report."

"The report further said that 15,000 Turks have been converted to Christianity, and other sects like Baha’iyyah over the past few years."

Islam Online- News Section

2004: Tragedy & Triumph For Persecuted Christians

""I often think of Soner Onder, who was released from a Turkish prison this year," says Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller. "He was a man who made a decision to stand firm for over 12 years while he was falsely imprisoned. And he said the prayers and cards of thousands of Christians were a real encouragement to him." - 2004: Tragedy & Triumph For Persecuted Christians