Friday, February 29, 2008


Lawyers representing the families of three Christians tortured and slaughtered with knives in eastern Turkey last April demanded this week that the three-member bench of judges hearing the case be replaced.

Addressing the Malatya Third Criminal Court on Monday (February 25), plaintiff lawyer Özkan Yücel Soylu declared that the “impartiality and independence” of the court was in jeopardy. Soylu told presiding justice Eray Gurtekin and his two associate judges that their repeated refusals to grant the plaintiff legal team’s procedural requests were obstructing justice in the high-profile murder case.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Bible publisher murder trial is not going away

Mission Network News
IN Network's Turkey country director Behnan Konutgan says the victims' families are being represented by 23 top human rights lawyers in Turkey. "Those lawyers support us and defend our case without getting any money just because of human rights, and they are doing a great thing. They want to go deep and see who is behind the killing of our brothers."

The attorneys are receiving death threats. But the courts have rejected requests for their protection. It is suspected that the five men accused of murder may have been put up to the killing by other individuals or an organization.

Konutgan describes the turmoil within the culture. "To be Turkish is to be Muslim, and you cannot separate it. When we say that we are Christians, they think we are not Turkish, that we're traitors to the country, and we are enemies of the country. That makes great difficulties."

Much good has come from the murders, however. One teen girl was trying to rebel from her family. Becoming a Christian would be a great insult to them, so she purchased a New Testament. She didn't start reading it intently until she saw the murder story on television. Konutgan says, "She [started] reading the New Testament seriously and later on became a Christian. She went to the office to change her identity without knowing any Christians. Now she's a Christian."

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Turkey in radical revision of Islamic texts

BBC NEWS | Europe | Turkey in radical revision of Islamic texts
Turkey is preparing to publish a document that represents a revolutionary reinterpretation of Islam - and a controversial and radical modernisation of the religion.

The country's powerful Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University to carry out a fundamental revision of the Hadith, the second most sacred text in Islam after the Koran.

The Hadith is a collection of thousands of sayings reputed to come from the Prophet Muhammad.

As such, it is the principal guide for Muslims in interpreting the Koran and the source of the vast majority of Islamic law, or Sharia. But the Turkish state has come to see the Hadith as having an often negative influence on a society it is in a hurry to modernise, and believes it responsible for obscuring the original values of Islam.

It says that a significant number of the sayings were never uttered by Muhammad, and even some that were need now to be reinterpreted.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Malatya, Dink murders still clouded in mystery

Turkey saw hearings for two separate but related crimes yesterday as the third trial in the murder of an ethnic Armenian journalist in İstanbul and the suspects of the murders of three Bible publishers in Malatya resumed yesterday, but neither trial has been a source of encouragement for those hoping to see justice done in the end.

The third hearing of the trial in the murder of three Christians, one of them a German citizen, in the eastern Turkish province of Malatya last year convened at the Malatya 3rd High Criminal Court at 9 a.m. yesterday.

Lawyers in the case demanded that the hearing be recorded with visual and audio devices, a demand the court rejected. After the rejection of the request, the lawyers this time asked that the judge be removed, saying that the court's impartiality and independence was now jeopardized by the denial.

The court adjourned the case until March 17, 2008 to review the request.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Turkey's ancient sites draw faithful

Turkey's ancient sites draw faithful | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Travel | Dallas Morning News
In Aya Sofya, Istanbul's towering sixth-century church, Baris points to a door and says the wooden frame purportedly came from Noah's ark. "Why all these Noah-related things in Turkey?" I ask."Because Mount Ararat and Noah's ark are in our country," he replies. "We also have other biblical sites that would excite any Jewish, Christian or Muslim traveler."

Baris was right. Most people associate the scriptures with Israel, but Turkey is another holy land, where, under sunny skies, visitors can walk in the footsteps of faith.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

The 'deep state' is smiling at me in the Malatya massacre case - III

The 'deep state' is smiling at me in the Malatya massacre case - III - Turkish Daily News Feb 16, 2008
I am the lawyer of the victims in the brutal murder case of three Christian missioners (by slitting their throats) in Malatya. And the story gets complicated . . .

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Turkey Urgently Needs Peace Journalism!

Bianet :: Turkey Urgently Needs Peace Journalism!
“Priest Santoro was killed in Trabzon as the result of a religious-racist attack. No high-level state official participated in his funeral.”

“Hrant Dink was killed in a religious-racist attack. The Prime Minister visited the Dink family in their home to express his condolences after the funeral. You imagine why he could not attend the funeral and why he felt he had to express his condolences behind closed doors.”

“The Turkish and German Christians working in a bookshop which published bibles in Malatya were slain in a religious-racist attack, three people died. There were no state officials at the funerals.”

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

AK Party backtracks on minority law to appease MHP

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which has relied on the support of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) to lift a ban against headscarves in Turkish universities, is backing down from its earlier stance on returning property to religious minorities. Sources close to the government say the text of the minorities bill will be changed, in what they call a "gesture" for the MHP's earlier support.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Should we worry about freedom of religion and belief in Turkey?

Freedom of religion and worship is a fundamental human right that everyone should enjoy regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality or religious preference. The right to follow a particular religion and practice its rituals is recognized as legitimate by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Turkey votes to lift head-scarf ban, but battle continues

Turkey votes to lift head-scarf ban, but battle continues |
With its vote Saturday ending a decades-old ban on wearing head scarves in public universities, Turkey's parliament may have marked a historical moment in the ongoing struggle between religion and secularism in this predominantly Muslim country.

But concerns remain in Turkey that the government's zeal for lifting the ban could undermine other reforms, particularly those relating to democratization and the country's ongoing European Union membership bid.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Deep State Coup Averted in Turkey

Deep State Coup Averted in Turkey - by Christopher Deliso
On 22 January, Turkish police arrested 33 individuals, some connected with the military, in the largest concerted action against the "deep state" – that shadowy underworld linking extremists and criminals from the spheres of military, political, judicial and the academy. Some were accused of belonging to an ultranationalist group, Ergenekon, that was allegedly "preparing a series of bomb attacks aimed at fomenting chaos ahead of a coup in 2009 against Turkey's center-right government, whose European Union-linked reforms are opposed by ultranationalists." The ultranationalists (who also distrust the Erdogan government for its alleged Islamist agenda) were plotting to assassinate prominent cultural figures, such as Nobel-prize winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, journalist Fehmi Koru, and possibly Kurdish politicians. The deaths of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, two Italian priests and three Protestant missionaries have already been blamed on ultranationalists associated with the Ergenekon group.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Turkey set to return minorities' properties

Turkey set to return minorities' properties -
Turkey's parliament is poised to approve a law allowing properties confiscated by the state to be returned to Christian and Jewish minority foundations.

The reform appears designed to meet conditions set by the European Union for Turkey's membership in its club, but critics say the measure would not go far enough.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

The freedom of expression problem deepens

The freedom of expression problem deepens - Turkish Daily News Feb 01, 2008
What has to actually be done to align Article 301 with EU law is quite simple. The government has the all the power it needs in this respect given its strength in Parliament. This is why it is not clear why it has been unable to tackle this problem until now. The delay in fact suggests that there is a problem over his issue within the AKP.

On the other hand EU sources are quick to point out that the problem is not simply the question of 301 but the general issue of freedom of expression in Turkey. To put it another way, even if this article was removed, prosecutors would still have an adequate legal framework to bring a case against individuals for things they utter.

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How Atatürk's church became an ultra-nationalist base

How deep does the rabbit hole go?
How Atatürk's church became an ultra-nationalist base - Turkish Daily News Feb 02, 2008
Owing its genesis and resources to the Turkish state, the mini-size but super-rich Turkish Orthodox Church has become a devotee of the most radical version of its founding ideology

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