Sunday, April 30, 2006

ID revolution in Turkey

Well, this is finally law. It should be a nice benefit for the believers here:

"The religion section on all identity cards will be left blank for those who wish according to the new Registration Services Act.

This new development for Turkish ID cards will change the lives of Turkish national in a revolutionary way. The act has been passed and published in the Official Newspaper and whether any religious affiliation appears or not on identity cards is now completely optional. Another development in the ID revolution is that any child born outside of marriage will carry the name of their father. Anyone aged 18 or over will be able to change the ‘religion’ section on their cards."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Missionaries single out Istanbul

Hide your women and children, here come the M's! I'm not sure where they found this information, but it is quite a hodge podge of truth and fiction. Very poor research! I had a hard time finding any information that was true in the article.

"There's more missionary activity in Istanbul than anywhere else in the country and the number of Jehovah's Witnesses is on the rise, according to a recent Ankara Chamber of Trade and Commerce (ATO) report.

There are 126 churches for Turkish Christians of different nominations in Istanbul, as well as four periodicals, one cafe, 36 associations, 17 newspapers, 12 Internet sites, one museum, one hotel, six radio stations, six companies, 44 foundations and two publishing houses. In relatively well-off neighborhoods in Istanbul, missionaries use movie theaters, theaters, cafes and other entertainment venues for activities such as screening Christian movies. The two publishing houses distribute books, leaflets, audio cassettes, CDs and VCDs to promote and propagate Christianity nationwide."

"A report recently released by ATO indicates that Turkey has become a key target country for missionaries, accusing such activities of threatening the unitary structure of the state by provoking ethnic and religious differences. Asserting that missionaries are people who call themselves "messiahs" and come from places as diverse as South Korea, the U.S., the UK, New Zealand, Austria, Germany, Sweden and Romania, the report adds that they are mostly coordinated from Adana, Edirne, Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Trabzon, Antalya, Hatay, Bursa and Samsun."
The New Anatolian

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Turk is chewed out over chewing gum

Watch where you chew your gum!

"A local leader of Turkey's ruling party was charged with insulting the country's founding leader for chewing gum during a wreath laying ceremony, the official news agency said.

Veysel Dalci, the head of the Justice and Development Party in the Black Sea coastal town of Fatsa, chewed gum Sunday as he walked toward a statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey. He was laying a wreath to commemorate the 86th anniversary of the founding of the republic's parliament.

A military official accused Dalci of insulting Ataturk, the Anatolia news agency said. Dalci was charged and summoned to appear in court.

Dalci said he had no intention of insulting Ataturk, but was chewing gum to freshen his breath after eating garlic, CNN-Turk television reported.

"I noticed I had a gum in my mouth after laying the wreath. I am very sorry," CNN-Turk quoted Dalci."
AP Wire | 04/24/2006 | Turk is chewed out over chewing gum

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Ask the pilot

I was planning my time in America this summer and I told my wife I could go from one city to another and then she could just come later. To this she replied, "How, are you just going to take a bus?" America, land of almost no public transportation.

"What's more enjoyable than flying? A ride on a Turkish bus, of course."

"strange as it might sound, it's the buses whose example the airlines ought to be striving to emulate, and not vice versa. The bus companies are clean, cheap, cordial and punctual."

"Now, most of the world I have never seen, but I've been to enough places to confidently submit that there is nowhere else with a long-distance bus system quite like Turkey's. The nation has only a skeletal web of railroads, but a massive network of more than 120,000 modern, comfortable motor coaches, many of them designed and manufactured in-country, go everywhere and anywhere -- comfortably, reliably and inexpensively. If you've ever seen the mammoth otogars (stations) in Istanbul or Ankara, you have a sense of just how truly vast the system is. Inside these airport-size depots, miles of counter space are divided elbow-to-elbow among literally hundreds of independent operators, each with its own ticket stall. Garishly painted signs advertise each company's routes and departure times, while touts scour the crowds rounding up customers. "Izmir! Adana! Goreme!" There are enough billboards and hawkers to make you think each of Turkey's 70 million inhabitants has his own private bus line. For the tourist it's explosively colorful and a bit overwhelming, yet sensibly organized and easy to navigate." Technology | Ask the pilot

Friday, April 21, 2006

Turkey to deport Human Rights Watch researcher

Every news outlet I have read says this man was deported for not having the right visa and it is implied that he was stirring up trouble in Kurdish areas, but the real reason was his investigation in the "Anti-Missionary 'Witch-hunt'" in Bingol listed below.
BUCHAREST DAILY NEWS: "Turkey to deport Human Rights Watch researcher "

Thursday, April 20, 2006


"Muslim woman attacked for ‘Christianizing,’ while followers of Jesus live in ‘disgrace.’

April 20 (Compass Direct) – Fanned by local media and a Muslim mufti, an anti-missionary “witch-hunt” targeting Christians in the Turkey’s eastern city of Bingol left a Muslim woman beaten in her tailor shop last month while police allowed her attacker to walk free. Guler Morsumbul has not yet found a lawyer willing to represent her in court against the man who attacked her six weeks ago, supposedly for “Christianizing” his daughter. A relative says many others have suffered from a growing climate of fear since reports of missionary activity first appeared in a national newspaper three years ago. “Whoever has a grudge against someone else, whoever wants to destroy someone’s business, simply calls the other person a Christian,” the relative said."
Compass Direct

Islam and Christianity - A Comparison of the Bible with the Teachings of Muhammad - Koran

"Islam claims 1/5 of the world population.* Over 80,000 U.S. foreign exchange students are Muslim.
To win them to Christ we should have a basic understanding of their beliefs."
Islam and Christianity - A Comparison of the Bible with the Teachings of Muhammad - Koran

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bomb in Istanbul

Bomb in Istanbul
Originally uploaded by TurkeyNEWZ.
Unfortunately, terrorists continue to strike out against innocents all over

the world. This bomb occurred not far from where I used to live, on a

street I used to walk down all the time. Fortunately, it seems that all of

the 31 injured in the blast will be ok, and no one was killed. We should

remember to pray for the people who deal with fear everyday of something

like this happening. They have no peace and hope for eternal life.

Friday, April 14, 2006


"Denied a work permit for being a “threat for the national security,” a German Christian believes that his family’s openly Christian activities prompted Turkey to label them missionaries and deny them entrance in February."

"The German family had not always lived in Turkey on three-month tourist visas. In 2002, following a year of language study in Istanbul, Eisele, 35, had moved his family to the city of Adiyaman in southeastern Turkey, where he opened a foreign language consulting company and taught English on a work visa.

But two years later, without specifying any reason, the Ministry of Work and Social Security refused to renew Eisele’s work permit. The July 2004 letter indicated that a copy of the decision had also been sent to the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Turkey’s secret police."

"One of only two foreign families living in the city of Adiyaman, the Eiseles told Compass there was only one possible reason why the government could view them as a security threat.

“From the very beginning I wasn’t hiding the fact that I was a Christian who stands for his convictions and will make no secret about that to anybody that wants to know about my faith,” Eisele told Compass. “Also, I met regularly with Turkish Christians.”

"Proselytizing and conversion to any religion are allowed under Turkey’s secular legal system, but Turkish authorities remain hostile to foreign missionaries suspected of having ulterior political motives."

"Foreigners cannot get work permits for religious work unless hired by an organization that has established legal status. Expatriate Christians who want to start a new church where one does not yet exist are faced with two options: apply for a work permit under another profession, or live in Turkey on a tourist visa that must be renewed in three month increments."

"One Christian foreigner living in eastern Turkey told Compass that after waiting eight months for a three-year work visa renewal, he instead received a one year permit. By the time it was sent to him, the work permit was only good for another four months."
Compass Direct

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Trouble in Turkey: Fear Prevails after Priest's Murder - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

"Christians are a vanishing minority in predominately Muslim Turkey. The murder of a priest in February shows that the situation has become precarious."

"We have nothing against Christians," says Volkan Canalioglu, the mayor of Trabzon. "On the contrary, we respect other religions; after all, Turkey is home to many cultures." A giant Turkish flag hangs in his office, and he is a member of the Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi or CHP) founded by Kemal Atatürk, which promotes the secular legacy of the founder of the modern Turkish state. "You will find no one in Trabzon who approves of this horrible deed."

"Turkey's Christian minorities had hoped that reforms introduced by the administration of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan -- as part of its effort to gain EU membership -- would not just lead to a few improvements, but to complete religious freedom. Although Christians are permitted to practice their faith freely, in many cases their churches have practically no rights and often have no claim to the property they stand on."

"Conspiracy theories have likewise been making the rounds in Turkey for some time, producing a climate in which Christians distributing the New Testament risk being physically attacked. In a sermon against missionaries it distributed last year, the state religious authority rails against what it calls "modern crusades," claiming that their goal is to "turn our young people away from the Islamic faith."
Trouble in Turkey: Fear Prevails after Priest's Murder - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Who's fault is it?

Turkish TV suggests the inadequacy of Islamist complaints:

"I've recently reached my limit for complaints from Islamists about how Westerners are corrupting their countries. I'm tired of hearing that Americans in particular are shipping in pornographic and erotic materials that undermine a Quranic worldview."

"Such statements are bad theology and inaccurate sociology. While spending a month in Turkey in 2004 I saw made-in-Istanbul television shows showing as much skin as the products of Hollywood. A newspaper rack on the street in the conservative southern Turkish city of Mardin displayed both hardcore Islamic papers and Turkish-published pornography. No American soldiers were forcing Turkish men to peruse the porn. Sin comes from within."

"democracy in action—companies use commercials that are the most effective in selling products. Some Muslims hate political democracy and its economic variant as well, believing that they should patronize only candidates and products pre-approved by mullahs. Perhaps if they have many choices, including some viewed as immoral, they won't be able to convince themselves so easily of their own righteousness."
WORLD Magazine | Weekly News, Christian Views

Monday, April 10, 2006

Islam, Persecution & Culture Wars - Apostates from Islam: The case of the Afghan convert is not unique

"THE NEWS THAT, DESPITE the Afghan parliament's last-minute attempts to prevent him from leaving, Abdul Rahman has been given asylum in Italy has drawn a global sigh of relief. But now is not the time to forget the issue. The case of Rahman--an Afghan Christian tried for the capital crime of apostasy--is not the only one, even in Afghanistan, and is unusual only in that, for once, the world paid attention and demanded his release. But there are untold numbers in similar situations that the world is ignoring.

Two other Afghan converts to Christianity were arrested in March, though, for security reasons, locals have asked that their names and locations be withheld. In February, yet other converts had their homes raided by police.

Some other Muslim countries have laws similar to Afghanistan's. Apart from its other depredations, in the last ten years Saudi Arabia has executed people for the crimes of apostasy, heresy, and blasphemy. The death penalty for apostates is also in the legal code in Iran, Sudan, Mauritania, and the Comoros Islands.

In the 1990s, the Islamic Republic of Iran used death squads against converts, including major Protestant leaders, and the situation is worsening under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The regime is currently engaged in a systematic campaign to track down and reconvert or kill those who have changed their religion from Islam."

"While there has been no systematic study of the matter, and many punishments are not publicized, it appears that actual state-ordered executions are rarer than killings by vigilantes, mobs, and family members, sometimes with state acquiescence. In the last two years in Afghanistan, Islamist militants have murdered at least five Christians who had converted from Islam.

Vigilantes have killed, beaten, and threatened converts in Pakistan, the Palestinian areas, Turkey, Nigeria, Indonesia, Somalia, and Kenya. In November, Iranian convert Ghorban Dordi Tourani was stabbed to death by a group of fanatical Muslims. In December, Nigerian pastor Zacheous Habu Bu Ngwenche was attacked for allegedly hiding a convert. In January, in Turkey, Kamil Kiroglu was beaten unconscious and threatened with death if he refused to deny his Christian faith and return to Islam."
VirtueOnline - News - Islam, Persecution & Culture Wars - Apostates from Islam: The case of the Afghan convert is not unique: "Turkey"

Sunday, April 09, 2006

In Turkey, a Deep Suspicion of Missionaries

"The priest was a missionary, residents whispered to one another, and his death resulted from a dispute over the money Turks have long believed missionaries pay to Muslims they are trying to convert."

" Mahya Usta, the attorney for the Turkish teenager accused in the murder, said missionary work "has nothing to do with my case." And leaders of Turkey's tiny, embattled Christian community said the ancient rumor of people paying for converts was an especially bad fit for Santoro.

"We have no money," said Bishop Luigi Padovese, vicar apostolic of Anatolia. "I gave Andrea 300 euros a month. If he gave 100 to each person. . . ."

But if the local version of events appears to have scant grounding in fact, it is anchored in a deep-seated mistrust of Christianity in Turkey, a nominally secular republic that U.S. officials frequently cite as a democratic model for the Muslim world."

"Unlike Afghanistan, which last month threatened to execute a Christian convert, the country has no laws barring Muslims from leaving the faith or against attempts to lure them away.

Yet Turkish police charged 293 people with "missionary activity" from 1998 to 2001, a state minister told parliament recently. People who place calls to Christian groups operating inside Turkey are warned against uttering the word "missionary" on an open phone line."

"Missionaries and the Crusades are related," Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs declared in a pamphlet published last June. The directorate, which exercises control over all Turkish mosques, distributed a sermon for Friday prayers nationwide a year ago. Imams warned worshipers that missionaries were involved in a plot to "steal the beliefs of our young people and children."

"Karatas, the Protestant spokesman, said fellow Turks often ask him: " 'If there is a war, whose side are you going to fight on?' I just couldn't get them to understand that even though I'm a Christian, my feeling for my country is the same. They just don't understand this."

Behnan Konutgan, an official with the Bible Society in Turkey who has said every Christian is obliged to spread the Good Word, has been arrested repeatedly. "When I am preaching," he said, "people think I'm an enemy of the country."
In Turkey, a Deep Suspicion of Missionaries

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Friday, April 07, 2006

'Nationalism Rises in Turkey, US is Main Threat'

"Thirty-seven percent of Turks believe that the religious identity of the nation should be given up for the sake of EU membership."

Washington report urges further religious freedom in Turkey - Turkish Daily News Apr 07, 2006

"The U.S. State Department, in a recently submitted report to the Congress, asserted that the Turkish government has generally respected the human rights of its citizens but noted that serious problems remain despite the fact that improvements have been made in a number of areas of human rights."

" The U.S. administration has asserted that the Turkish government continues to restrict religious freedom and to punish some forms of nonviolent expression by the media and private citizens.

"The government at times restricted the rights of assembly and association and limited the activities of some political parties and leaders," the report said. "Human rights organizations continued to report widespread incidents of police torture and ill treatment, although the number of such incidents declined. Observers also reported an increase in the number of detainees who consulted with attorneys during detention. The constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, the judiciary was sometimes subject to outside influences."
Washington report urges further religious freedom in Turkey - Turkish Daily News Apr 07, 2006

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Two months on, Christians don’t want “normality” after Fr Santoro’s death

"In 1846, the Catholic Church of Latin rite, that had never led Antioch out of its sight, returned to our city with the Capuchin Brothers. The first to arrive was the Italian, Fr Basilio Galli. Tireless, active, he won the sympathy of people; he opened a chapel and a small school. The plaque at the entrance of our church reminds us how he paid with his life for his zeal: he was martyred on 12 May 1851, stabbed in the back in church by two murderers, just after he celebrated morning Mass.

He was Turkey’s first modern-day martyr. After 155 years, the second, who showed the same zeal, the same energy.

The blood of the martyrs fecundates the earth.

They tell us that now the Christian community in Antioch is the most alive of all in Turkey, the most dynamic and open to dialogue and ecumenism.

What will become, then, of that of Trabzon, once flourishing and now reduced to the bare minimum?"
>>> <<< Two months on, Christians don’t want “normality” after Fr Santoro’s death

Monday, April 03, 2006

Ancient Christian sect prays for Turkey to join EU

"Like most Turkish men, Gabriel Oktay Cilli likes to drink tea with his mates and go to soccer matches.

However, one detail marks him out sharply in this overwhelmingly Muslim country: every Sunday he goes to church.

On the wall of his jewellery shop, next to the more familiar portrait of modern Turkey's founder Kemal Ataturk whose image decorates stores, restaurants and offices throughout the country, hangs a picture of Jesus Christ and his disciples.

Cilli belongs to one of Turkey's most ancient communities, the Syriac Christians, who still speak a form of Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. In Turkey they number barely 20,000, down from 250,000 when Ataturk founded the republic in 1923."
FEATURE - Ancient Christian sect prays for Turkey to join EU

Saturday, April 01, 2006

In many Muslim countries, religious conversion is taboo

"In the Middle East, Jordan is known as a tolerant country, but when a Muslim man converted to Christianity two years ago, a court convicted him of apostasy, took away his right to work and annulled his marriage.

Such prosecutions are rare — because they're hardly ever needed. The law heavily discourages — or outright forbids — conversion by Muslims in most nations in the region. But weighing against it even more heavily are the powerful influences of family and society.

The sensitivity of the issue is highlighted by the case of an Afghan man who faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity — creating an outcry in Western nations, which pressured Afghanistan for his release."

"There are exceptions. In strongly secular Turkey, a convert can walk into a Demographic Records office, sign a declaration saying they have converted from Islam to Christianity and leave an hour later with a new identity card reflecting the change. While Islam is the religion of 99 per cent of Turkey's 71 million people, it has no official religion.

"Turkey is a democratic country and, according to law, you can choose whatever you want," said Soner Tufan, himself a convert from Islam, who runs a Christian radio station in Ankara. But, he said, "if someone converts, they can suffer some problems from their friends, relatives and neighbours" — or face difficulties getting a job in the civil service." - In many Muslim countries, religious conversion is taboo: "Turk"

Cyprus: Portrait of a Christianity Obliterated

"The island of Cyprus was the first destination of the "special mission" that the Holy Spirit entrusted to Paul and Barnabas, according to what is written in the Acts of the Apostles, in chapter 13.

On the island they found a Roman governor, Sergius Paulus, "an intelligent man who wanted to hear the word of God and believed, deeply shaken by the teaching of the Lord."

But if Paul and Barnabas were to return to Cyprus today, to the northern part of the island, they would find not the Romans as governors, but the Turks.

And instead of a Christianity being born, they would find a dying Christianity, with the churches and monasteries in ruin, or else transformed into stables, hotels, and mosques."
Cyprus: Portrait of a Christianity Obliterated

Toddler dies as rebels, police clash in Turkey

Remember both the Christians and non-christians living In Diyarbakir, as the violence is rising. Pray that the believers and church there would be able to reach out to others during this time of crisis:

"A stray bullet killed a toddler yesterday as Kurdish protesters battled security forces in southeastern Turkey, a hospital said, raising the death toll this week to seven."

"The protests began on Monday in Diyarbakir, 70km west of Batman. Six people, including two children, had already died in clashes between Kurdish protesters and Turkish security in Diyarbakir.

The mayor of Diyarbakir, Osman Baydemir, called at a news conference yesterday for the protesters to “go home”. More than 250 people — mostly from the security forces — have been injured in the fighting between police and thousands of young people."
Toddler dies as rebels, police clash in Turkey

Christians Deal With Language of Martyrdom

"After the al-Qaida leader in Saudi Arabia was killed by security forces, his supporters issued a message hailing him as a martyr. A week earlier, Christian groups used the same word for an American peace campaigner whose body was found in Baghdad.

The statements reflect how the West's struggle with radical Islam is creeping into views of religious martyrdom. Some Christians seem ready to embrace the connotations of "victim" and "hero" that have driven extremist Muslim declarations, with each side portraying the other faith as a persecutor."

""Each time Islamic radicals speak of suicide bomber 'martyrs,' for example, it reverberates in Christianity," said Jonathan Bartley, co-director of Ekklesia, a London-based group that examines religious and social trends.

Christians match those claims by citing activists and clergy killed by Muslims. "There's a radicalization of what martyrdom means by some Christian groups," Bartley said. "They focus heavily on the idea of a clash of civilizations."

"In February, an even wider outpouring followed the slaying of an Italian Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Andrea Santoro, who was shot as he prayed in his church on Turkey's Black Sea coast. Some reports have suggested the suspected gunman, a 16-year-old boy, was motivated by the protests against caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.

The Vatican's top diplomat to Turkey, Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, mourned Santoro as a "new martyr for this millennium."

"Would someone who goes out to retaliate against Islamic terrorism be worthy of being called a martyr? The answer is no. The Christian martyr does not desire death or seek it for others," said Riccardi, who wrote a book on martyrdom."

"Missionary groups today usually estimate 200 million Christians are under some form of persecution around the world."
Christians Deal With Language of Martyrdom