Monday, April 30, 2007

Christian Grit

". . . it has been the courage of these and other Turkish Christians that has proven so inspiring. In an act that hit the front page in the largest newspapers in Turkey, Susanne Geske, wife of the slain German missionary expressed her forgiveness for the assailants in a television interview. She did not want revenge, she told reporters. “Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, wholeheartedly agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23:34)."
Christian Grit

Trouble in Turkey. Democracy really sucks when the people you dislike win. Or so it seems

"Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul refused on Sunday to withdraw from Turkey's presidential vote, defying pressure from the army and calls from hundreds of thousands of demonstrators worried about his Islamist past."

Weazl's Revenge: Trouble in Turkey. Democracy really sucks when the people you dislike win. Or so it seems

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Turks Protest Islamic-Rooted Government -

"At least 300,000 Turks waving the red national flag flooded central Istanbul on Sunday to demand the resignation of the government, saying the Islamic roots of Turkey's leaders threatened to destroy the country's modern foundations.

Like the protesters _ who gathered for the second large anti-government demonstration in two weeks _ Turkey's powerful secular military has accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of tolerating radical Islamic circles."

"The military said Friday night that it was gravely concerned and indicated it was willing to become more openly involved in the process _ a statement some interpreted as an ultimatum to the government to rein in officials who promote Islamic initiatives.

Sunday's crowd chanted that the presidential palace was "closed to imams."
Turks Protest Islamic-Rooted Government -

Widow of slain Christian: 'Forgive them'

"In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne Tilman has changed lives," the letter said. "One columnist wrote of her comment, 'She said in one sentence what 1,000 missionaries in 1,000 years could never do.'"
WorldNetDaily: Widow of slain Christian: 'Forgive them'

Friday, April 27, 2007

Turkey Jails Four Street Evangelists

Police jailed four Christian street evangelists in Istanbul for "missionary activity" this week, even as government officials openly defended the right of all religious groups to carry out evangelistic work in Turkey. Officials released U.S. citizen David Byle this evening, more than 48 hours after he was arrested along with a Korean and two Turkish Christians, his wife said. Christian sources maintained that Turkey plans to deport the Korean believer, though further details remain unknown. The four men were detained Wednesday afternoon (April 25) while sharing their faith with passersby at a park in Istanbul's Taksim district. The arrests occurred in the midst of tense national debate over the legitimacy of Christian missionary activity, sparked by the gruesome killing of three Christian men in southeastern Turkey last week. "Missionaries are more dangerous than terror organizations," Niyazi Guney, Ministry of Justice director general of laws, reportedly commented only a day after the murders.

Turkish Faithful Fight to Dispel Anti-Christian Myths |

"The Christian community in Turkey, which makes up less than one percent of the population, has long been viewed with suspicion by the Muslim dominated society.

“Missionary activities” are commonly misrepresented on Turkish media as a foreign plot to divide Turkish society, according to the World Evangelical Alliance.

In light of this, the Rev. Johan Candelin, executive director of the WEA Religious Liberty Commission, said that Turkish Christians are urging the Turkish government to tell the nation that Protestant work does not have a political mission but only a spiritual one. The Christian community also wants the Turkish government to affirm that a Christian Church is beneficial in a secular society."

"WEA’s Candelin pointed out that the tragic situation has given a unique opportunity for Christians to share the Gospel of forgiveness with the Muslim-dominated Turkish nation.

“Be assured that the followers of Jesus around the world stand with you in prayer and love and that the suffering you feel is felt by the global body of Jesus Christ today,” he said to the Christian community in Turkey."
Turkish Faithful Fight to Dispel Anti-Christian Myths |

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Claims Turks died martyrs

"ISLAMIC fundamentalists are running tours to Gallipoli to teach Muslims that the Turkish dead were martyrs for Allah.
Tour operators say the trips are subsidised by religious and political groups who want Turkey to become a Muslim state.

"The people taking these tours are not proper guides, licensed by the Government," complained a tour guide on Gallipoli, who refused to be named for security reasons.

"Some are from religious colleges and are teaching that Turkish soldiers were helped by miracles -- that Allah was responsible. It's rubbish."
Claims Turks died martyrs | Herald Sun

Monday, April 23, 2007

A murdered German missionary highlights Christian insecurity in Turkey - International Herald Tribune

"The story of a quiet and deeply religious German man ended with the sound of rocky dirt being dumped over his grave in eastern Turkey, in a murder case that has drawn attention to the plight of Christians in this Muslim country.

Tilmann Geske, a shy and hardworking man, lived almost 10 of his 46 years in Turkey. He and two Turkish Christians were found dead last Wednesday, bound hand and foot and with their throats slit, at a publishing house that distributes Bibles."

"On Friday, after Tilmann's funeral, his wife Susanne discussed her husband and her future in an interview at her apartment in Malatya."

"I feel this is my place," Susanne said, vowing to remain in Turkey with her three children.

"He didn't have the idea of tossing out Bibles," Susanne said of her husband. "If you knew Tilmann, he was never like that. He was very shy, he would never do that.

"This was his dream — not to be just a Christian worker, but to be a part of the world," Susanne said. "He wanted to work like the Turks, not just to be a foreigner who gets money from abroad. He wanted to show that you can be both a Christian and a normal worker."

"Tilmann's body was lowered with ropes into its grave. Throughout most of the ceremony, only the smallest girl, Miriam, broke down in tears. But as rocks and dirt thudded down and Tilmann's coffin began to disappear, the family collapsed into a tight little circle, blocking the sounds out with their sobs."
A murdered German missionary highlights Christian insecurity in Turkey - International Herald Tribune

Turkish Islamists face Christians' death trial

"I don't think this has a religious root, it's about nationality," she said. "To be Turkish is to be Muslim and so Christians are here working against Turkey."

In fact, Christians are a fraction of one per cent of Turkey's 71 million people but it is common for Turks to complain that evangelical churches are proliferating at an alarming rate. Courts continue to prosecute converts for insulting "Turkishness". Three members of the Turkish Protestant Church are currently standing trial.

Missionary activity, while not an offence, has been placed on the list of threats to the nation by the National Security Council."

"Turkey is in a state of transition," said Hussein Ali Karacan, a leading nationalist. "The speed of transformation is shocking to the mindset of nationalists."
Turkish Islamists face Christians' death trial | International News | News | Telegraph

12 to Be Charged in Turkey Bible Murders

"A court jailed five suspects Sunday on murder charges linked to the killings of three Christians who were tied up and had their throats slit at a publishing house which had drawn protests by nationalists for distributing Bibles.

Six others were released pending trial, the court said. It was unclear what charges the six faced and a trial date has not yet been set. A 12th suspect, who tried to escape from police by jumping from a fourth-floor balcony at the scene of the killings, remains hospitalized in stable condition and was expected to be charged later."
12 to Be Charged in Turkey Bible Murders

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The 3 Martyrs

Enough with Christophobia

"This heinous crime, which the police is still investigating, is latest one in the horrible chain of attacks against the Christians in our country. And although it was perpetrated by a few young fanatics, there are many other “respectable” people that deserve to be blamed for. They, of course, did not (and would not) support this carnage, but they undoubtedly inspired the killers by continuously spreading a sick ideology: Christophobia, i.e., the fear of Christians and Christianity.

It is not rocket science to understand that if you systematically spread the feelings of fear and hatred about a particular group of people, you will pave the way for violence against them."

". . . both in Turkey and in the Muslim world in general, there are two strains of Christophobic thought, and action, whose ties to Islam should be studied carefully.

The first one is what I would call Islamo-nationalism. Its adherents perceive Islam as an important part of their national identity and see people of different faiths as threats towards it. These threats can be the “imperialist” US and EU — as the 370,000 secularist protestors who gathered in Ankara last Saturday saw them — or their perceived “fifth columns,” which would include pro-Western liberals and non-Muslim minorities. Especially Muslim converts to Christianity are deeply hated, because that they have defected to the enemy."

"For these people, what the Qur'an and the Islamic tradition say about Christianity is not very important. Their hatred is based on political issues, on which they might agree with some die-secularists such as the “Kemalists” of Turkey."

"The second source of Christophobia and anti-Christian violence in Muslim societies is a more direct outcome of Islam as a religion. Here lie some traditional concepts in Islamic law such as the ban on apostasy.

Although the Qur'an decrees no punishment for a person who leaves Islam and chooses another religion, traditional Sharia, which is a post-Qur'anic body of law created in the early centuries of Islam, brings a horrible sentence: capital punishment. According to this view, anybody who abandons Islam can be rightfully killed — a punishment which the Afghan convert to Christianity, Abdur Rahman, barely escaped last year thanks to the intervention by the international community."

"As a more short-term solution to Christophobia, we Turks need to begin to stand against it more vigorously. Our all-mighty state shows no lack of determination in punishing insults (and sometimes even criticism!) against “Turkishness” and its perceived sacred pillars. It should also start punishing those who spread hatred against the Christian — or Jewish, Armenian, Kurdish etc. — citizens. That hatred not only ends in horrible bloodsheds, but also puts shame on us Turks more effectively than any insult could do."
Enough with Christophobia - Turkish Daily News Apr 20, 2007

The banality of the murders of three Christians in Turkey - Turkish Daily News Apr 21, 2007

"We will continue to pray in our churches for our nation, but our nation will continue to see us as enemies. And sooner or later, ‘birileri’ who loves their country will attack us again. As our bodies will lay there on the ground, their abis, in the most banal fashion, will declare that birileri is trying to destroy Turkey"

"I am a Turkish Christian and have known Necati personally for years. I attended the same church with him. He was a genuine man, who loved his country and people. However, neither Necati and Uğur nor any of us are allowed to love our country or even serve her. Somehow, our personal love for Jesus is incompatible with being a Turk and a Patriot. Somehow, no matter who we really are and what we really believe, what is important is what the officials and media have named us; Traitors! The Turkish State has a legal responsibility towards her vulnerable minorities. The improvements and grandeur public declarations of sorrow by the politicians should not be done only with the fear of the EU or to save the “face” of our nation, but because our State cares for her children and citizens. The State has a moral responsibility to do so! Even when the international watchdogs are not looking, even when the legal provisions are not in place, even before someone asks for protection, our country should be there for us. Our democracy and the national soul is only strong to the extent of her protection, respect and integration of her weakest members!"
The banality of the murders of three Christians in Turkey - Turkish Daily News Apr 21, 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007

Turkey makes arrests after murder of Christians

“The Public Security – the article reads – has been long sounding the alarm against the worrying spread of Christianity in Turkey, in its affirmations that out of a population of 70 million, 10,000 have converted to Christianity, as a result of Protestant missionary work on the ground. Moreover the Minister for Internal Affairs made public that between 1999 and 2001, 334 Muslims chose to be baptised. Looking at the numbers – continues the paper – it doesn’t seem an elevated amount, yet for years now opposition politicians have been crying out red alert. This is the climate of fear which prepared the ground for the Malatya slaughter”.

The young wife and mother of three small, blue eyed children, of the murdered German pastor made an appeal along these lines in a highly touching interview with ATV: “We have been in Malatya for over ten years now, everyone respected and cared for us. I want to forgive my husbands assassins because I believe they don’t know what they have done. My husband was killed in the name of Jesus Christ, and because of his love of Him. We want to go on living here, my children go to school here and I want my husband to be buried here in the city cemetery, so my son can go a place flowers on his grave and in doing so draw strength to go on hoping and believing”.

The wife of Necati Aydin, also assassinated while he was at work in the publishing house in Malatya, expressed her profound sorrow, but without hatred towards his murderers: “God forgive them for their deeds”, she affirmed with determination.
Spero News | Turkey makes arrests after murder of Christians

Christians in Turkey fear more attacks after killings at publishing house - International Herald Tribune

"The problem is our education and our media," Mustafa Efe, head of Mujde FM, or Miracle FM, a Christian broadcasting station, said after traveling to Malatya to meet Protestant pastors. "They always say Christianity is dangerous because Christians are trying to break up Turkey."
Christians in Turkey fear more attacks after killings at publishing house - International Herald Tribune

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Protestants decry 'witch hunt'

"The killing of three people at a Christian publishing house is the result of a "witch hunt" triggered by growing intolerance towards Christians in mainly Muslim Turkey, said leaders of the tiny Protestant community on Thursday.

Wednesday's attack in the eastern city of Malatya "is appalling savagery, but not a surprise for us," said Ihsan Ozbek, a leader of the Alliance of Protestant Churches in Turkey.

He said: "Today in Turkey, there is a 'missionary hunt,' just like the witch hunts of medieval times.

"Turkey is facing dangers and threats unprecedented in its history. The fact is that Turkey has become a place of unprecedented intolerance and rejection."

Bedri Peker, another leader of the Alliance, accused officials, politicians and the media of provoking hostility against Christians.

"With constant enmity, some political party leaders, some government officials in particular and some media organisations are turning Christians into targets and provoking the public," he said.

"Christians are being portrayed as criminals, separatists and traitors," said Peker.

Peker said missionary activities are not banned under Turkish law.

He added: "It is our natural right, within the framework of freedoms and liberties under constitutional guarantee, to practice and preach our beliefs."

Ozbek urged the government to guarantee the safety of Christians and act against anti-Christian hostility."

"Protestant blood has now been spilled in Turkey," said Ozbek.

"This very mood threatens our lives and safety."
Protestants decry 'witch hunt': World: News: News24

Anonymous Interview with Turkish Protestant Pastor

“Where are we? I am disgusted by theses atrocities which seem to repeat themselves again and again with ever increasing violence, in a country which promotes itself as a secular and democratic majority Muslim nation. But where is the respect for differences, for the religious and ethnic minorities present on the territory? We were almost used to the continual background slander and accusations of proselytism, of giving out money and faith, we were almost used to being ladled as “infidel Muslim grabbers”, who – poor things – allow themselves be brainwashed by us, convinced by a mere handful of dollars hidden in a Bible. But we never could have imagined that all of this would have led to such an atrocious gesture, prepared in the name of God, carried out against Christians”.

How is it possible to carry on believing these lies? Why does no-one actually take time out to really listen to converts, to their daily tragedies, to their efforts, to their refund hope in the Risen Christ who died for them? Why have they never asked us, with sincerity and in desire to know our faith, about the God we believe in? The want to frighten us, they want to cancel us, reduce us to nothing, but these murders reveal that they are the ones who are frightened, that they are the ones who turn to violence in order to silence us, despite the fact that there is no reason one to be opposed to the other, they have no reason to fear dialogue with us.

Yesterdays act was a horrific one: three employees were brutally slaughtered, blindfolded them, their hands and feet bound and their throats slit. Yet again it appears to have been carried out by five young fanatical university students, who completely out of their minds carried out this ferocious act for the love of Allah.

Why to they persist in mocking us? Today, Turkey cries out at the shocking scandal, against the nightmare of religious hatred which persists, yet no-one is courageous enough to really take a stand, to condemn not only this religious hatred, but also the mass media which with great subtly and cunning continues to brainwash people with propaganda which incites them to believe that we are evil, that we want to wipe them out, to take away their faith and turn them from their beliefs in the God of Mohammad. Is it not perhaps the opposite? Look at the figures, look at the statistics: they tell us that since the era of Ataturk the construction of places of worship have been banned, and for this we are not authorized to open new churches, only there where there is already a Christian presence (usually foreigners), but the mosques sprout up like mushrooms all over Turkey. They tells us that , once again due to Ataturks’ laws, we cannot run courses of Christian formation, seminars, nor – taking into account what happened yesterday – can we produce didactic materials to educate or inform Christians. Why, I ask, does no-one speak out against courses on the Koran which are held each summer in public schools for children?

They fear conversions, but its not as if we are a pack of missionaries who go around baptizing everybody we meet: let us count the numbers of newly converted, let us count the numbers of pastors and religious who live on Turkish soil, then let us count the number of Imams who receive a monthly wage from the State, let us count the number of Christians who go to Islam due to work pressures or marriage, if we do so we see there can be no doubts about the massive imbalance.

If Turkey truly wants to be a free, democratic, secular republic, then it has to stop mocking us. Rather it should seriously commit itself to defending and safeguarding the rights of each citizen, of each person despite their ethnic or religious background. But is their really the will to do so? Who is it that wants to make us hate this land and these people who we came to serve and help, and for whom we are ready to give our own lives? Let us begin to admit in all honesty and transparency who is behind the murders, which for over a year now, have been plaguing the nation of Turkey: after don Andrea Santoro, Hrant Dink, and our three Presbyterian employees, whose turn is it next?"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Three killed at Turkish Bible publishers -

"For many Turkish nationalists, Christian missionaries are seen as enemies of Turkey working to undermine its political and religious institutions.

The government and other officials in Turkey have criticized Christian missionary work while the European Union, which Turkey hopes to join, has called for more freedom for the tiny Christian minority."

"We would like a government campaign to get rid of the myths, such as that missionaries are trying to divide the country, these are the things which feed such acts," said Carlos Madrigal, an evangelical pastor who knew the victims and said they were also evangelical protestants.

"In some ways the situation has improved because we have got legal rights ... but there are parts of society which have become radicalized," Madrigal, whose Istanbul church has police protection since the Dink murder, told Reuters."
Three killed at Turkish Bible publishers -

Three killed in attack on Bible publisher

"Attackers on Wednesday slit the throats of three people, including a German citizen, and caused one other to jump off a building which houses a Turkish publishing house which printed bibles, security officials said."

"The injured person, who is fighting for survival in a Malatya hospital, apparently jumped off the building to escape the attackers.

Security officials said four people had been detained in connection with the attack in the southeastern city of Malatya. Televised images showed police wrestling one man to the ground and leading several young men out of the building, apparently in handcuffs."

"Some Turkish nationalists take Christian missionaries to be enemies of the country working to undermine Turkey's political and religious institutions. Nationalists had previously protested outside the Zirve publishing house in Malatya, accusing it of proselytizing, news reports said. An official from the publishing house told local television that they had received threats over its publications."

"The government and other officials in Turkey have in the past criticized Christian missionary work here while the European Union, which Turkey hopes to join, has called for more freedom for the tiny Christian minority."

Four killed in knife attack on Christian publishing firm

"Four people were killed on Wednesday at the offices of a publishing company known for publishing Christian materials in the central Turkish city of Malatya, the NTV private television station reported. The four had their throats cut by the attacker. Another person was being treated in hospital for injuries after jumping out of a window to escape the attacker, NTV reported.

NTV reported that nationalists had previously protested outside the offices of Zirve Publishing accusing it proselytizing."
Four killed in knife attack on Christian publishing firm

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Muslim World's Most Modern City: Miniskirts Meet Minarets in the New Istanbul - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

"Istanbul, the engine of Turkey's economy, has been reinventing itself for centuries. Now the city's elite is embracing the country's Ottoman past, while the poor dream of ascending the social ladder -- and urban planners simply try to keep the metropolis functioning."

"In some neighborhoods, where lemons are still sold from horse-drawn carts, where the men sit in blackened tea rooms and the women lay out sheepskins to dry on the asphalt, Istanbul seems less of a big city than a collection of Anatolian villages dotted with old palaces, voluminous mosques and glass office towers.

Istanbul is probably the most Western city in the Islamic world. But those who take the trouble to go to the the Fatih neighborhood to pay a visit to the tomb of the conqueror Mehmed II, who brought down Byzantium in 1453, turned churches into mosques and transformed the Christian Constantinople into the Islamic Istanbul, will also discover the city's deeply Islamic side. Here the women wear black, full-length veils, and many men are bearded and wear religious caps and collarless shirts. One small section consisting of a few streets is populated almost entirely by members of a 14th-century Islamic order and has no televisions or alcohol."

"The city wants Kaptan to put a stop to its growth. "We could open the doors tomorrow for a million new jobs, but we couldn't cope with it," he says. If development continues at the current pace, says Kaptan, Istanbul's population could easily swell to between 20 and 25 million in the next 20 years. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently called for a limit not just on the number of cars in Istanbul, but also on the number of new residents.

Planners want to cap Istanbul's population at 16 million. To do so, they plan to divert migration into the nearby region along the Sea of Marmara. They also plan to upgrade Istanbul's Asian districts, currently home to hundreds of thousands of people who commute to jobs in office buildings on the European side."
The Muslim World's Most Modern City: Miniskirts Meet Minarets in the New Istanbul - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Turkey protests focus on religious issues

"A presidential election is approaching in Turkey, and the protesters were voicing their opposition to the head of the leading party in parliament, with its Islamist roots, taking the post.

"We don't want to become another Iran, another Afghanistan," said Hanife Sahin, a retired nurse, stooping under the red tent formed by a Turkish flag that ran like a river over the crowd."

"More women are wearing head scarves, said Ecem Karanfil, a 17-year-old in a T-shirt and jeans. "We want to feel comfortable dressing the way we want," she said.

Her friend said she sensed something suspicious in the attractive new design of religion textbooks being given out in their high school. "I am wondering why," she said, as a pretzel seller squeezed by, his wares stacked in a pyramid on his head.

A 65-year-old woman who had come from Izmir, a town in western Turkey, said she was annoyed at what she saw as the new state laxness allowing state workers to take time off for prayer on Fridays.

"I go to the post office on Friday, and I can't see a single person at their desk," she said, sounding indignant.

A small thing had caught Sahin's attention. A government official had recently suggested increasing the number of letters in the Turkish alphabet to 32 to allow the language to better accommodate Arabic sounds. "I've done pretty well with 29 so far," she said, smiling."
Times Argus: Vermont News & Information

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hundreds of thousands rally against Turkish government -

In my time in Turkey, it has made huge headlines whenever people have gathered to protest, but I've never seen more than 20,000 gathered at a protest. Mostly there are less than a 1000 who have gathered to protest America, the war in Iraq, or against Israel. This is a staggering number of people protesting:

"Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Turkey's capital on Saturday to try to stop the ruling AK Party from picking Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as their presidential candidate because of his Islamist roots.

The AK Party has its background in political Islam, and the possibility of an Erdogan presidency after parliament votes in May has split this secular but predominantly Muslim country, which is engaged in membership talks with the European Union."

""Turkey is secular and will remain secular," shouted protesters as they waved national flags and banners of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, revered founder of the republic which separated religion and state."
Hundreds of thousands rally against Turkish government -

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Turkey's Ancient Assyrian Christian Community Looks to the Future

"The Syriacs [Assyrians] in southeast Turkey are celebrating Easter, with high hopes for the future. There are approximately 2,000 Syriacs left in the hilly region around Mardin and Midyat in southeast Turkey, bound in by the Tigris to the north and east, and by the Syrian border to the south. Most villages of Tur Abdin are desolate and decayed. Approximately, 300 to 400,000 Syriacs from Turkey live in Europe.

The area is called Tur Abdin in the Syriac language (Aramaic). It is an ethnic and religious mosaic where four languages (Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish and Syriac) are spoken.

Syriacs are Christians whose gospels are written in Aramaic."
Turkey's Ancient Assyrian Christian Community Looks to the Future

Turkey's Chief Muslim Cleric Says World Needs Love To Overcome Chaos

"Head of Turkey`s religious affairs authority cited Thursday a world which was in pain and showed a way out of chaos through a life style based on love for humanity.

"Islam is a religion of peace and love," Ali Bardakoglu, head of Turkey`s Religious Affairs Directorate General, told a meeting, held in the Netherlands celebrating the birthday of Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad.

"And, the peace and trust which the world needs could be reached by getting to know the mercy and the love Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad has bestowed," he said."
Turkey's Chief Muslim Cleric Says World Needs Love To Overcome Chaos

Monday, April 02, 2007

Non-Muslims oppose Grand Bazaar opening on Sundays

"The Grand Bazaar, the Mısır Çarşısı (Spice Bazaar), the Sahaflar Çarşısı (second-hand book bazaar) and Mahmutpaşa Bazaar -- important shopping centers for locals and foreign tourists -- will be open on Sundays starting April 8, according to a decision from the İstanbul Governor’s Office and the İstanbul Chamber of Commerce.
Non-Muslims who do not want to work on Sunday because of their religious beliefs, as well as some tradesmen, oppose this decision."