Wednesday, January 31, 2007

For every five schools, one mosque built in Turkey

"The number of mosques built in Turkey in the last four years was 2,436, a recent statement by the Directorate of Religious Affairs revealed and the number of classrooms built in the same span of time equaled 100,280."


Turkish Church Vandalized, Pastor Threatened

A more full report on the attack on the church in Samsun:

"Attackers shattered the Agape Protestant Church ’s windows and spray-painted its street sign early Sunday morning (January 28) in the city of Samsun , Pastor Orhan Picaklar told Compass."

Picaklar received two death threats by e-mail on the day of the attack, one signed by the Turkish Vengeance Brigade.


“I will kill you Orhan, you have very little time left,” read one e-mail, which cursed the congregation as “Christian pigs” who would “burn in Hell.”


“I’ve received so many of these in the last three years that I don’t even pay attention to them, I just delete them,” Picaklar told Compass. “But in recent days I’ve started to take them seriously.”

"Sunday’s attack has convinced the church’s landlord that the congregation must leave, the pastor said. The church only moved into the building from its former location three weeks ago.


“I think people don’t want to work with us because of the rock throwing attacks,” Picaklar said. “Where are we supposed to worship this winter, on the street?”

Regular vandalism, negative media and e-mail threats against the Agape church increased soon after the mayor of the city’s Atakum municipality, Adem Bektas, stated in November 2004 that he would never allow a church to be built there."

Turkish  Church  Vandalized, Pastor Threatened

Monday, January 29, 2007

Trial of Turkish Christians Continues

The trial went very well today and without incident. The police were ready and made plans to get Hakan and Turan in and out of the courthouse without problems. Several reporters and a few dozen protesters from the nationalist party were waiting outside the courthouse while the trial went on for an hour (like last time, no press or visitors were allowed in the courtroom). After the trial, the police escorted Hakan, Turan, and their lawyer out the back door of the courthouse and safely to their car before anyone knew about it.

A few minutes later, the main lawyer for the prosecution and his followers came out the front door and left without giving a press conference. They appeared to be angry and it was probably because things had not gone so well for them in the courtroom. We learned that the prosecution’s main witness had been caught lying and even the prosecutor was caught in a lie. When asked where the other two witnesses were, he told the judge that they could not get permission to leave their high school to be there. The judge responded that the schools are on winter break.

Unfortunately the case was not thrown out, so Hakan and Turan will be back in court on April 18th. However, despite this bit of bad new, today’s trial did go well on all other counts and we can be thankful that there was no violence or other incidents.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Unknown assailants break windows of Protestant church in Turkey - International Herald Tribune

"Unknown assailants on Sunday stoned a two-story building housing a Protestant church in the Black Sea port city of Samsun, the pastor of the church said.

"The assailants broke at least 10 windows in an overnight attack," Mehmet Orhan Picaklar, the pastor of the Agape Church, told The Associated Press by telephone. "This is the seventh or eight such attack over the past three years. Separately, I am constantly receiving death threats by e-mail."

Unknown assailants break windows of Protestant church in Turkey - International Herald Tribune

Church in Samsun Attacked and Threatened

The Agape Church in Samsun was vandalized late Saturday night and a threatening letter was sent to the police. All of the windows were broken out and the church sign was painted over. The church had just recently moved into the building and had been doing renovation on it.

This has brought a lot of stress to this small congregation, which has previously had difficulties with some local extremists. They ask for your prayer for the members and that this will only lead to God's glory and will be done in the community.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The regrettable story of Article 301

Good summary article on Article 301, one of three charges against the 2 Turkish believers who will be on trial on Monday.

The regrettable story of Article 301 - Turkish Daily News Jan 25, 2007

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"You have not left your country my love"

"Hrant Dink's wife Rakel Dink made a farewell speech in front of
thousands of people and said: "I am here with great honor and with
great sorrow. You have left the ones you loved, you have left my arms
but you have not left your country, my love."

"Thousands marched after Dink's funeral car without shouting slogans or
protesting his timeless death. The crowd was surrounded by great

Rakel Dink's farewell speech filled everyone's eyes
in tears. Rakel Dink quoted the Bible and said: "There is no greater
virtue than sacrificing your life for others. I am sending off my love
today. We will walk without shouting slogans, without disturbing the
people around us. There is no other solution than to find the dark
hands which create villains out of babies."

SABAH Newspaper English Edition - National - "You have not left your country my love"

Crowds mass in Istanbul to bid farewell to Hrant Dink

"With thousands of people marching slowly behind the black hearse
carrying murdered journalist Hrant Dink's coffin through the streets of
Sisli, towards Istanbul's Taksim Square, Istanbul citizens came out in
masses today to honor the slain Agos newspaper general editor on his
final journey.

Hürriyet - Crowds mass in Istanbul to bid farewell to Hrant Dink

Monday, January 22, 2007

He believed his love for his country would save him

"Dink's murder has shamed Turkey, just as his prosecution under the
preposterous article 301 of the new penal code, which created the
offence of insulting Turkishness, shamed it."

"What rankled most with him to the end was that he had been held by the state to have insulted Turks. "I wish he could hear the thousands of people lining up all the way from Osmanbey to Harbiye shouting, 'We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian!'" a friend of his told me on the night of the killing.

Only those who know Turkey can possibly imagine the emotional charge released by those last four words. Just as they will have winced at what the boy who shot him in the back of the
head shouted as he ran away: "I have killed the gavur [the infidel, the foreigner]." Ogun Samast, the 16-year-old who has apparently now confessed to killing Dink, comes from Trabzon, where last spring, after the publication of the Muhammad cartoons, a boy of 15 walked into a church and shot an Italian priest in the back of the head."

Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | He believed his love for his country would save him

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Who Killed Hrant Dink?

Good post from Pikkert:

"Hrant Dink was a Turkish-Armenian journalist. He was murdered yesterday.

Like many liberal Turkish writers, including Nobel winner Orhan Pamuk, he’d been to court charged with breaking the infamous “regulation 301”. It forbids anyone from insulting “Turkishness”. Hrant believed that Turks must be reconciled with their own history before genuine reconciliation can take place between Turks and Armenians.

In the past such murders were ascribed to “shadowy figures in the deep state”. Not any more. The nationalists, reacting in part to Western, particularly American, cultural and political ambitions in the Middle East, have created a monster which freely roams the streets. It kills Christian priests, fires guns and lobs Molotov cocktails at Protestant churches, and makes a mockery of Turkey’s claims at being a cross-roads of diversity and multi-culturalism.

The monster is a deliberate creation of nationalist politicians, newspaper men (and women), and film producers, notably the creators of the violent series Kurtlar Vadisi (Valley of the Wolves). A like-minded group of lawyers led by the infamous Mr. Kemal Kerincsiz hauls those who think slightly differently to court on the least excuse. If they cannot see you behind bars, they’ll blacken your name. You might even be killed… Like Hrant Dink.

Hrant is not the first, and won’t be the monster’s last victim. It will continue to devour until the Turks, en masse, are sickened by it. Only then will the politicians, newpapermen and women, and film producers change their tunes; they, after all, are merely driven by the vote and the bottom line.

Who killed Hrant Dink? Every nationalist voter."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Turkey's Early Christian Roots


"In the ancient world, Turkey was a key crossroads between Europe, Asia and the Middle East -- and the site of many of the most crucial events in the history of Christianity. The Apostle Paul lived in the city of Ephesus for perhaps as long as three years, and used it as a stopping point during his missionary journeys. The area was also important for another early church leader, St. John, who according to biblical tradition, was said to have presided over the churches of Asia Minor and credited for bringing Mary, the mother of God, with him to spend her last days in a small house outside Ephesus. All seven Ecumenical Councils met in Turkey to formalize doctrine, among them, the influential Council of Nicea in 325, which established a creed still recited in churches around the world. And Constantinople became the new capital of the Holy Roman Empire until the Ottomans conquered the city in 1453, transferring the Middle East balance of power from Christianity to Islam.
Kim Lawton's visits several historic religious sites in Turkey for a look at the important role this land played in the development of early Christianity. "Christianity has some of its earliest beginnings in Turkey," observes Professor Allen Callahan, Society for Biblical Studies. "Pound for pound, as it were, we have more remnants of Christian antiquity in Turkey than anywhere else."


"The modern country of "Turkey" did not come into existence until the 20th century. Its existence is not even a century old. It was preceded in history by the Ottoman Empire in Asia Minor which lasted for about 5 centuries before the appearance of Turkey as a nation.

And when Turkey did come into existence it did everything it could to extirpate all Christian presence in the land. What was allowed to remain was taken over for Muslim use (Aghia Sophia Cathdral), copied (the Blue Mosque) or cynically used to attract tourists. The rest was systematically destroyed, including the Christian populations in Turkey. Among these were the Armenian Christians (genocide); the 1955 Pogrom of Greek Orthodox Christianity (a quarter of a million Greek Orthodox forced out), both of which are widely documented. For just one example, see Speros Vryonis' The Mechanism of Catastrophe."

"Turkey" played absolutely no role in the development of Christianity in that area. Rather, it has done everything possible to destroy every vestige of Christianity in that land, constrained only by International agreements.

You need to apologize to hundreds of thousands of modern Christian martyrs, Christian exiles, and to peoples and institutions whose properties have been exapropriated and whose Christian instutions (such as the Halki Theological School arbitrarily shut down decades ago) have been eliminated."
Hellenic News of America

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Volunteers Attacked Outside of a Church

A local church in a modern neighborhood of Istanbul was doing a week-long outreach in their area and it had been going very well. About 18,000 calendars had been distributed with an invitation to attend events at the local church, with only a few minor incidents with people angry with them for what they were doing. This took a turn for the worse on Saturday when two of the volunteers who were in town to help with the event we're leaving the Church when they were attacked by some thugs.

The thugs had obviously seen the fliers and come to lay in wait for someone to come out of the Church. One of the volunteers received a cut on the nose and the other got bruises on his head, wrist and forearm. The police arrived quickly and protected the volunteers from further abuse while escorting them back to the Church. Because of this incident, one of the Church leaders asked the police to provide police protection, which they did at the next event. The volunteers chose not to press charges.

Pray for the fruit from this outreach and others that will be held in the future. It is obvious the enemy is not happy with the new ground being broken in his territory.

Click below to read more about the area this happened in:


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Monday, January 15, 2007

Turkish prime minister wants to limit migration, car ownership in Istanbul

Words of wisdom from our fearless leader:

"Turkey’s prime minister on Saturday proposed imposing limits on the number of people moving to Istanbul as well as restricting car ownership in the country’s most populous and congested city.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former mayor of the city that counts more than 12 million residents, called for support from the media and non-governmental organizations for his proposal to limit cars and people in the nation’s commercial capital.
“We have to do this for Istanbul. If we love Istanbul, if we love Turkey, we have to do it,” Erdogan said in a speech at a Turkish Red Crescent conference addressing the city’s preparedness against earthquakes and other disasters."

Erdogan said there were 2.5 million vehicles in Istanbul - more than the city’s poor road infrastructure can carry.
“This is too much. We have to reduce this to 2 million,” Erdogan said.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


"The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that Turkey violated the property rights of an Istanbul based non-Muslim foundation, a decision likely to set a precedent on how Europe views the treatment of non-Muslims in Turkey. The Fener Greek Higher Secondary School Foundation is a foundation under Turkish law whose role is to promote education in the Greek high school of Fener, in Istanbul. The foundation, in its complaint filed to the court in 1997, relied on Article 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights covering the "protection of property" and Article 14 covering the "prohibition of discrimination."

"The court ordered Turkey to return two title deeds of two properties -
which had been invalidated in 1996 by a decision made by a Turkish
court - to the foundation. If Turkey fails to reregister those two
properties under the name of the foundation, then it will have to pay
890,000 euros to the foundation instead.

Experts say the
decision means that Turkey needed to ensure domestic remedy in order
not to face a high cost that could arise from similar cases.

Rights of non-Muslim foundations are critcial issues in Turkey’s EU
membership bid. EU officials say that the issue is a vital indication
of whether Turkey has fully implemented EU-inspired reforms."

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New statistics on places to pray in Turkey

"According to newly released statistics from the Turkish Police
Headquarters, Turkey is rich in places for prayer. While there are
currently 77,777 mosques throughout the country, there are 373 official
houses of worship for non-Muslims living in Turkey as of the end of
2006. This number was lower, at 273, in 2005. Though counted by the
government as "cultural centers" rather than houses of worships, the
"cemevis" used by the non-Sunni Alevi portion of the Turkish population
were counted at 900.

Most of the 321 churches in Turkey today are Greek Orthodox.
Of the 90 active churches, 1 is on the island of Bozcaada, 8 are in
Gokceada, 6 are in Hatay, and 75 are in Istanbul. With the Greek
population estimated at under 2,000 currently in Turkey, this means
that there is one church for every 20 Greek-Turks. For the
Armenian-Turkish population, there are fewer churches, despite the fact
that there are more of this group; an estimated 45,000 Armenians make
their permanent home in Turkey. With 55 working churches, the
Armenians' houses of worship are mostly in Istanbul too, though there
are 7 Armenian churches in Hatay, and one each in Mardin, Diyarbakir,
and Kayseri. Other churches spread throughout Turkey include 60 Suryani
Orthodox churches, Bulgarian Orthodox churches, Georgian Catholic, Arab
Orthodox, and other Christian churches, including 52 Protestant
churches which have been at the center of controversy due to missionary

Hürriyet - New statistics on places to pray in Turkey

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The Signal: News for Santa Clarita Valley, California

"We tend to be politically correct in the West and it's impolite to point out that there is hardly a spot on the globe where Islam is not at war with not only its neighbors, but itself, as well."

"According to the Reuters news agency: "At least 1,413 people - referred to as 'amateur butchers' by the Turkish media - were treated at hospitals across the country, most suffering cuts to their hands and legs, the Anatolia news agency reported."

"You wonder if some South Seas villager or later-day Conan the Barbarian, hovering over a steaming carcass, was ever visited by introspection:

"Hmmm. I keep doing this, over and over - slitting the throats of Bossy the Cow or Vicky the Virgin. Has my life been demonstrably better?"

The number - 1,413. People with broken toes, cracked ribs from being squished by a bull, inflamed and swollen groin from being butted by a goat, self-inflicted stab wounds, heart attacks and concussions.


Less than 1,413, factoring in the dead folk.

They're probably sitting in the waiting room, asking one of two soul-searching questions:

"Am I praying funny?"

Or -

With a steely eyed gaze aimed at a distant horizon: "That didn't work. Next year, I'm going to need a bigger animal..."

The Signal: News for Santa Clarita Valley, California

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Alevis of Turkey

Good article that tells more about the Alevi Muslims of Turkey:

"Here, there is no imam, minaret or call to prayer. But for an estimated 20 percent of Turkey's 71 million people, this is Islam.

worshippers are Alevis, followers of a tradition rooted in the beliefs
of the Shiite branch of Islam - but which diverges greatly from Shiite
majorities in neighboring Iran and Iraq. The Alevis incorporate
shamanistic rites such as singing, ritual chanting and dance, and shun
many customary Islamic practices, including the separation of men and
women in prayer and the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca."

Religion in the News -

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