Monday, November 27, 2006

Christians in Turkey frustrated by popular distrust�|�

"Christian pastor Behnan Konutgan knows a little about religious tolerance in Turkey.

After a life spent translating the Bible into Turkish and defending his faith in a secular country with an inherited suspicion toward Christianity, the 55-year-old Protestant feels his efforts are bearing little fruit.

"This year we have seen rising prejudice against Christians. Islamic and nationalistic sentiment is growing, probably because of the Iraq War, and people are angry," he said in his office, with no sign, hidden away in a rundown district of old Istanbul.

Popular mistrust of all Christians among majority Muslim Turks has also risen after Pope Benedict made comments seen as critical of Islam and the air of suspicion has been getting worse ahead of a four-day visit from the leader of the Roman Catholic Church beginning on Tuesday."

" The EU has also shown concern at attacks against non-Muslim clergy and places of worship. Catholic Priest Andrea Santoro was murdered in a church in Trabzon on the Black Sea in February.

Christians say tensions have been inflamed, as elsewhere in the Muslim world, by the Iraq War, Danish caricatures of Prophet Mohammad and comments by the Pope on Islam."

" In a study on religion by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) 60 percent of respondents believed that the work of non-Muslim missionaries should be restricted.

"This reflects a lack of self-confidence. They have this idea that there is this plan in the United States and Europe to convert them to Christianity," said Associate Professor Ali Carkoglu of Sabanci University who co-authored the study."
Christians in Turkey frustrated by popular distrust�|�

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