Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Alarm in Turkey over violence against Christians

Alarm in Turkey over violence against Christians (SETimes.com)
Christians in Turkey face hostility not only from Islamic extremists, but also from ultranationalists who see their presence as a threat to national security. Popular TV serials such as "The Valley of the Wolves" portray missionaries as agents in a plot by global powers to undermine Islam and the Turkish nation. It was a TV show that reportedly inspired Franchini's assailant.

The wave of attacks -- and particularly the murders in Malatya -- has have shocked many Turks. A majority Muslim but secular country, Turkey prides itself on religious tolerance. The government and nearly all political groups strongly condemned the brutal death of the missionaries.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

13 Arrested in Push to Stifle Turkish Ultranationalists Suspected in Political Killings

13 Arrested in Push to Stifle Turkish Ultranationalists Suspected in Political Killings - New York Times
In one of the biggest operations against Turkish ultranationalists in decades, the authorities announced on Saturday night that they had arrested 13 people who were part of a criminal group that was suspected of carrying out political killings and having shadowy ties to the Turkish state.

Among those arrested were three retired military officers, as well as Kemal Kerincsiz, the neo-nationalist lawyer who filed dozens of legal cases against Turkish intellectuals, including Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist, the state-run Anatolian News Agency reported. The men were detained Tuesday for questioning but were not formally arrested until Saturday.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Island dispute highlights unease of Turkey's religious minorities

Island dispute highlights unease of Turkey's religious minorities
The Orthodox church says it's a historic monastery, and the Turkish government describes it as old pig farm. A dispute over a dilapidated structure highlights tension over Turkey's religious minorities, a key concern as the European Union considers membership for the Muslim-majority nation.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The first of five young Turkish Muslims on trial for torturing and killing three Christians in eastern Turkey took the witness stand last week, vigorously denying that the group had planned to kill the evangelicals.

In chilling testimony of the final hours of Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske, accused killer Hamit Ceker stated before Malatya’s Third Criminal Court on Monday (January 14) , that during the savage attack on Zirve Publishing Company’s office on April 18, he saw leading suspect Emre Gunaydin slit the throats of two of the Christians.

Denying that the group of young conspirators had planned to kill the two former Muslims who had converted to Christianity or their German colleague, Ceker told the judge that the confrontation turned “tense” when Aydin, who pastored a small Protestant congregation in Malatya, declared to the five young Muslims, “We are all the children of Jesus.”

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Ret general, nationalist lawyer taken into custody

This is the lawyer who has been working against many Christians in Turkey, among others.
Ret general, nationalist lawyer taken into custody - Turkish Daily News Jan 23, 2008
Ret. Major Gen. Veli Küçük and ultra-nationalist lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz were among 30 people taken into custody by the police for alleged links to the weapons cache found in Ümraniye, Istanbul last year.

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Hatred Against Christians Has Escalated in Turkey

Timeline of recent events against non-Muslims in Turkey. Click the link to see the events.
Hatred Against Christians Has Escalated in Turkey
The European Union has for a long time protested against the fact that Turkey, a country applying for membership in the European Union, has failed protect the human rights and the religious freedom of the very small Christian minority. On the contrary – the development has been towards the opposite direction.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Turkey under watch...

Turkey under watch... - Turkish Daily News Jan 22, 2008
The most dangerous development in international relations is for Christian sentinels to start focusing on a country. If you don’t prevent this immediately, you become a target. Then it will be too late to get rid of this vigil. Turkey has recently joined the list of countries 'to be watched.' The AKP’s turban campaign and the crimes committed against the Christians in our country are the main factors that have caused this Christian interest in our affairs.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Turkey’s Protestant churches complain they are being targeted

A report submitted by the Turkish Alliance of Protestant Churches to Parliament’s Human Rights Commission on the state of religious minorities in Turkey alleges that non-Muslim groups in Turkey have been made into targets for attacks. The report was submitted to the head of the Human Rights Commission, Professor Zafer Uskul, who has gone to Malatya to observe the ongoing trial over the brutal murder of three Christian missionaries last year. The report covers some of the human rights violations that have occurred recently against non-Muslims in Turkey, noting especially that many of the suspects involved in attacks against non-Muslims in this country have not been found or arrested.
Part of the report reads as follows: “Despite the fact that freedom of belief is protected by the Constitution, the last decade has witnessed the development of campaigns aimed at denouncing, slandering and provoking non-Muslim groups. Included in this campaign are physical attacks against these groups. This campaign has been contributed to both actively and passively by a concern for media ratings in the Turkish press. Disinformation regarding non-Muslim groups has helped make these groups a target, especially for more radical circles in the nation.”
The report said 2007 was a dark year for non-Muslim groups. It said that both before and after the murders in Malatya such groups faced attacks on religious prayer sites, threats and open discrimination. The events in Malatya showed how painful the results of campaigns of provocation can actually be, according to the report.

The report also said the Protestant community in Turkey faces threats both to their lives and to their belongings. It urged the government and other state institutions to take an urgent proactive stance against threats to non-Muslim groups. According to the report, there should be penalties for articles published in the popular media that could spark intolerance and discrimination.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Turkish court hears confession

Christian Today > Turkish court hears confession of murdered Christians
The five men standing trial, all aged between 19 and 20, confessed to the murders.

The judge in the trial also rejected objections from legal representatives for the families of the murdered men and the Turkish Protestant churches to the use of 16 out of 31 case files presented by the public prosecutor. These files focused on the religious activities of the murdered men and published addresses for 40 other Christians associated with the victims. Lawyers for the families are also demanding an enquiry into suggested links between the defendants and extremist networks.

The trial is set to resume on 25 February 2008, when other defendants are due to testify.

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EurasiaNet Civil Society - Turkey: Murder Cases Underscore Troubles with Judicial, Police Reform
The cases have led to renewed concerns about the continuing influence of rogue nationalist elements in Turkey’s security forces. They have also helped refocus attention on the conduct of the country’s police force and judiciary. Recent reports produced by international human rights groups argue that law-enforcement structures in Turkey are in urgent need of reform.

"Torture, ill treatment and killings continue to be met with persistent impunity for the security forces in Turkey," Amnesty International said in a report released last summer. "The investigation and prosecution of serious human rights violations committed by officers of the police and gendarmerie are flawed and compounded by inconsistent decisions by prosecutors and judges. As a result, justice for the victims of human rights violations is delayed or denied."

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Court holds second hearing in Malatya murder case

The five suspects currently under arrest are being charged with "setting up an armed terrorist organization, more than one homicide as part of the activities of the terrorist organization, trespassing and aiding and abetting an armed terrorist organization." Günaydın is additionally being charged with having masterminded the murders. The prosecutor is seeking three life sentences for each of the five suspects. The other two are facing charges of aiding and abetting an armed terrorist organization.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Turkish Court Hears Suspected Killers Of Christian Publishers

NEWS ALERT: Turkish Court Hears Suspected Killers Of Christian Publishers | Turkey | Europe
Amid tight security, seven people appeared again in court in the south-eastern Turkish town of Malatya Monday, January 14, to answer charges of involvement in torturing and killing one German and two Turkish Christians last year, a case that added to international concerns over violent incidents against the Christian minority in this predominantly Muslim nation.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Reporting Religion

Radio Program on Turkey
BBC World Service - Find A Programme - Reporting Religion
In Turkey the murder suspects accused of brutally killing 3 Protestant converts will go on trial again on Monday. But according to some, the media should also sit in the dock. Protestant pastors say a hugely popular TV series, The Valley of Wolves is ruining their lives by inciting hatred towards them. We speak to Pastor Zekai Tanyar, and the script writer of the controversial series Cuneyt Aysan.

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Bishop locked out of churches over Turkish priest

Bishop locked out of churches over Turkish priest | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
The head of the Anglican church in Europe, Dr Geoffrey Rowell, was locked out of six churches in Turkey by their congregations after his controversial decision to ordain a local convert to the priesthood.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Turkey Releases Teenager Planning "Massacre" In Church

Turkey Releases Teenager Planning "Massacre" In Church | Turkey | Europe
A Turkish teenager who vowed to kill the pastor of a Protestant church and "massacre" Christians in the Black Sea coastal city of Samsun has been released by a local court because he is "to young" Turkish media reported Tuesday, January 8.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Victorious Family

Turkish Protestants acting to fix Turkey's image

Turkish Protestants acting to fix Turkey's image - Turkish Daily News Jan 05, 2008
Attacks against Christians that have been widely covered by the European press have marred Turkey's image in the eyes of the Christian world, the association's chairman, Ertan Çevik, said in a written statement.

More studies of Christianity are needed in faculties of Theology and the Turkish community needs to be well informed, he said, adding that the Turkish nation knows little about Christianity and therefore research on Christianity in Theology Departments could help to fill the gaps.

Turkey's image was shattered with the recent attacks, Çevik said, explaining that as Turkish Christians they have religious freedom but need to declare this to the world in order to repair the image.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Turkish Christians to hold international faith congress

A congress aimed at mending Turkey's shattered image in the eyes of the Christian world after a number of attacks against priests and missionaries will bring together the leaders of various congregations of Christian churches from 120 countries around world, Ertan Çevik, head of Turkey's Protestant-Baptist Churches Association announced on Thursday.

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Turkish Television: “Need a Weapon to Kill Christians? I will Give You One”

Turkish Television: “Need a Weapon to Kill Christians? I will Give You One” | The Brussels Journal
The well-known Turkish nationwide television station ‘Show TV’ aired on 8th, 15th and 29 November 2007 a new episode of the old series “Kurtlar Vadisi-Pusu” – The Valley of the Wolves. [...] The film is about the relationship between the state and four powerful Mafia families, which in the film control the economic life of the country.

The programme also mentions Christian missionary work and closely links it to organ trafficking, mafia and prostitution. Christians are shown as enemies of the people. The goal of Christians in the series is to defraud Turks and to weaken the national consciousness in order to divide the country among themselves. Further it is presumed that Turkish Christians ally themselves with foreign powers and make common cause to betray the Turkish people.

As a result, 29 November, for example, the script literally said: “Someone must be in a position to halt these people.” He continued: “As we have thrown out crusaders [from Turkey], we will also throw them out. If you have no weapon, I will give you one.”

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Accidental Outreach

Accidental Outreach | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction
Turkey's largest minority group, the Kurds, represent nearly 11 million people. But missions and church leaders in the country think it unwise to explicitly tailor evangelistic efforts to attract them.

One ethnic Turkish pastor said, "We don't specifically try to reach Armenian or Syrian language groups." Even in the heart of Kurdish regions, pastors are cautious about using "Kurdish evangelism."

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Jesus in Turkey

Christianity Today takes a look at the Church in Turkey:
Jesus in Turkey | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction
For the first time in 550 years, Christianity inside Turkey is growing in numbers and influence. But its recent growth comes at a high price: since February 2006, radicalized Muslims have killed five Christians—the kind of cold-blooded martyrdom not seen in decades.

In November, a Turkish court set a trial date for the five suspects involved in the Malatya killings for early January. Police are calling for life imprisonment and said all five suspects have confessed to the murders. The suspects accused the Christians of "forcing local girls into prostitution" and of praising the violence of rebel Kurds. (About 30,000 people have died since the 1980s in rebel-related violence.) Meanwhile, the Alliance of Protestant Churches in Turkey is calling Turkish congregations to pray and fast every Thursday for the next several weeks in preparation for the trial.

Isa Karatas of the Alliance of Protestant Churches in Turkey told Compass Direct News, "It is clear from these statements of the suspects that there is some group of powerful influence behind them. These people want to portray Turkey's Protestants as enemies of the nation."

"At the same time," he added, "because honor is such an important concept in our culture, they are trying to accuse us of having weak morals, so that they can find a justification for their murders."

Few nations have as rich a Christian history as Turkey. This is where Paul founded some of the earliest churches, including the church at Ephesus. Seven churches in this region were addressed in the Book of Revelation. Those in the early monastic movement found the caves of Cappadocia a near-perfect place to live out lives of prayer. Constantinople, now the city of Istanbul, became the capital of the Roman Empire just as it was being Christianized, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has been the leader of worldwide Orthodoxy for centuries.

But Christianity came under Islamic rule in Turkey in 1453 and steadily declined for centuries; the last 100 years have been the worst. In 1900, the Christian population was 22 percent. Now most experts estimate that there are fewer than 200,000 Christians nationwide, comprising less than 0.3 percent of the population.

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Ultranationalist TV series again cited for inspiring targeting of Christians.

Compass Direct News
According to an NTV report on New Year’s Day, Tabuk confessed during police interrogations that he was planning to kill Arkan to get money, just as was occurring on the popular TV series, “Valley of the Wolves.” A 19-year-old Muslim youth who stabbed an Italian priest in the stomach on December 16 reportedly admitted in his statement to police that he also had been influenced by an episode of “Valley of the Wolves.” Father Adriano Franchini, 65, was hospitalized overnight in the Aegean city of Izmir and released. Together with 20 other Protestant church leaders, Arkan had signed a formal complaint filed with the Istanbul State Prosecutor’s office on December 3, protesting against Show TV’s weekly “Valley of the Wolves” for offending Christians by “presenting them as a terrorist group and broadcasting scenes making them an open target.” The series has portrayed Christians as selling body parts, being involved in mafia activities and prostitution and working as enemies of society in order to spread the Christian faith. “The result has been innumerable, direct threats, attacks against places of worship and eventually, the live slaughter of three innocent Christians in Malatya,” the complaint stated. The Protestant leaders demanded that Show TV and the producers of “Valley of the Wolves” be prosecuted under sections 115, 214, 215, 216 and 288 of the Turkish penal code for spreading false information and inciting violence against Christians. “We are Turks, Turkish citizens, but our faith is Christian,” Arkan told NTV in a January 1 interview. “We want to live out this faith in this country in the best possible way.”

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Slain missionaries mourned in Turkey

Mission Network News
At stake is Turkey's willingness to tackle persecution. Voice of the Martyrs Canada's Glenn Penner explains: "If the killers are allowed to simply get away with lesser charges, or it's seen that these murders were somehow justified on the basis that these Christians were involved in missionary activity, then Turkish Christians are certainly going to feel that they're not equal members of society, and that their religious activities are going to continue to be under threat."

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