Sunday, August 31, 2008

Politics, not religion 'behind Turkey killings'

Religious Intelligence - News - Politics, not religion 'behind Turkey killings'
Politics, not religion, may have been the motive for the killing of three Christians last year in Turkey, according to testimony presented in the trial of five men accused of the murders.
Politics, not religion 'behind Turkey killings'

On Aug 21 prosecuting attorneys requested police investigate possible links between the ultra-nationalist Ergenekon movement and the April 18, 2007 torture and murder of Turkish Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and German missionary Tilmann Geske in the southeastern city of Malatya.

According to Turkish press accounts of the trial, the alleged ringleader of the Malatya murders, Emre Gunaydin was a member of an ultra-nationalist youth movement, the Ulku Ocaklari, and was linked to a retired general and journalist alleged to be part of Ergenekon network.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Facebook Population: A Global Breakdown

Turkish Digest: Facebook Population: A Global Breakdown
Facebook Population By Region: all numbers current to last Friday (Aug 22nd 2008)

Top 8

1 USA 31,679,380 about 1 in 10
2 United Kingdom 12,216,660 about 1 in 5
3 Canada 9,878,540 about 1 in 3
4 Turkey 3,747,000 about 1 in 20

Central broadcasting system for Islamic call to prayer

Can they just broadcast direct to their cell phones?

Central broadcasting system for Islamic call to prayer - Turkish Daily News Aug 27, 2008
Recently adopted by the Religious Affairs Directorate, a central broadcasting system for "azhan," the Islamic call to prayer, has satisfied many citizens who used to be disturbed by its non-simultaneous broadcast from minarets.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Hellenic News of America
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has introduced legislation to urge the Government of Turkey to respect the rights and freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Christian Church, in accordance with criteria necessary to join the European Union. The Ecumenical Patriarch is the leading figure in the Orthodox Church and has suffered from discriminatory treatment from the Turkish government.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Compass Direct News
The five young Turkish men accused of torturing and killing three Christians in Malatya last year may have been incited by members of a vast political conspiracy allegedly responsible for multiple murders in recent years. The 10th hearing on the murder of three Christians at a publishing house in southeast Turkey 16 months ago took place yesterday (Aug. 21) at the Malatya Third Criminal Court. Plaintiff attorneys requested the case be integrated with an investigation into Ergenekon, an ultranationalist cabal of retired generals, politicians, journalists and mafia members under investigation for conspiracy in various murders. In January police uncovered and started arresting members of Ergenekon. A criminal investigation has linked them to high-profile attacks, murders and plans to engineer domestic chaos and ultimately overthrow the government. Two Turkish Christians, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, and a German, Tilmann Geske, were brutally tortured and killed on April 18, 2007 in the southeastern city of Malatya. Evidence suggests Emre Gunaydin, the suspected ringleader of the murderers, was in contact with at least two people connected to Ergenekon: a retired brigadier general and a journalist. The latter, Varol Bulent Aral, told Gunaydin he saw a connection between missionaries and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party terrorist organization.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ergenekon indictment to be included in Malatya murders case

Ergenekon indictment to be included in Malatya murders case
The panel of judges hearing the murder trial of three missionaries killed at a Christian publishing house in the eastern province of Malatya last year has ruled to integrate the nearly 2,500-page indictment against Ergenekon, a gang accused of trying to topple the government by force, into the Malatya case.

Monday, August 18, 2008

We are all equal as citizens of the Turkish Republic

Gül: We are all equal as citizens of the Turkish Republic
All Turkish citizens, irrespective of religion or ethnicity, are equal, President Abdullah Gül said on Saturday during a festival of Turkey's Alevi community, a religious group that differs from Sunni Islam with membership thought to number between 6 million and 12 million in Turkey.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Debate on prayer in schools in Turkey

The right to pornography - Turkish Daily News Aug 09, 2008
A new hot debate started this week in the Turkish media with the draft law prepared by Edibe Sözen, a member of Parliament on the ticket of the governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP.
Another suggestion in Ms. Sözen’s draft is the opening of “prayer rooms” in public schools, “for students from all different religious faiths.” The secularist media perceived this as “an attempt to insert Islamic prayer to schools,” and Ms. Sözen responded by saying that she meant “all faiths,” not just Islam.

This is, again, a complex issue. It is nice that Ms. Sözen refers to “all faiths,” but it is also true that more than “99 percent” of Turkey is Muslim, and the prayers rooms, if they will be opened, will all be Islamic ones. So, in real life, the issue is about allowing Islamic prayer in Turkish schools. And it is not easy to give an answer. On the one hand, there is the idea that public schools are supposed to be secular, so they should not promote religious services. But on the other hand, there is the idea that public schools, let alone private ones, should respect the demands of their students to observe their religious practices. Which one is true?

The issue actually cuts down to this question: Should the secular state respect the religious practices of its citizens and make some regulations accordingly? My answer is often yes, because otherwise religious citizens would feel be discriminated against by the state. And they would be alienated.

I recall that the director of my high school would not allow students to go to the Friday prayer by taking a slightly longer noon break. He used to say, “Study at school is more important than prayer at the mosque.” That sort of secularism is an assertive one that seeks to triumph over religion. And it is inevitable for true believers to dislike, and stand against, such a secularism. The wiser way would be to develop a model in which the religious lifestyle would be embraced, as well as the secular lifestyle. And citizens should decide whether they are driven to prayer or porn.

Sümela Monastery: Ancient jewel at the foot of the Black Mountains

Sümela Monastery: Ancient jewel at the foot of the Black Mountainsah
The Black Sea province of Trabzon is known for its beautiful natural scenery, but it is also known for its centuries-old monastery complex. As you arrive at Altındere Valley in the town of Maçka, you will likely catch a glimpse of the Sümela Monastery by gazing down into the valley from far above before you can take in the magnificent view around you: the sparkling stream, the green cloak covering the valley and the Sümela Monastery in all its glory.

The monastery, also known as the Meryem Ana (Virgin Mary) among locals, is a Greek monastery complex at the foot of the Karadağlar (Black Mountains). It is perhaps the most significant attraction of the region. Its full name is Panagia Sümela, or Theotokos Sümela, in some sources.

Monday, August 04, 2008

“Hrant was our Sacrifice as Well”

Hetq Online
The Armenian community of Istanbul is the most isolated when it comes to relations with the Republic of Armenia. The Armenians of Turkey hardly feel the presence of Armenia in whatever sector you wish to name. However, the Armenians in Istanbul and in the hundreds of residences throughout Western Armenia have remained Armenian, even without knowing the language, converting to the Muslim faith, changing their names and surnames and professing to be of another nationality.

The number of working Armenian churches in Istanbul today stands at 36. However, the number of those attending religious services decreases yearly. On any given Sunday, one would be hard-pressed to see a large number of young people at church.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Scary article published this morning in Turkey

All citizens except non-Muslims - Turkish Daily News Aug 02, 2008
While the substance of the nation is Islam, it is forbidden right from the start to speak up about it. And that is certainly the origin of our chronic schizophrenia vis-a-vis secularism

As the central feature of the nation-building process, the Islamic religion excludes the followers of other beliefs and thus considers them anti-nationals. In this sense, the Armenian, the Greek and the Jew are the innate "others" of the nation, its natural adversaries. Since the creation of the Turkish nation, non-Muslims had no place in citizenship, but non-Turkish Muslims have theirs as long as they turn Turkish and overlook their identities of origin.

The religious root of the nation does not disturb the secular individual, quite the contrary. In this context, the Christian missionary is a common enemy. He/she is dangerous for the Muslim's religion and the secular's nation. The conversion of a Muslim fatally hurts the nation as much as the Muslim congregation. Although there is no problem in the country with Muslim missionary activity that converts others into Islam and hence "Turkifies" them, the Christian missionary presents a clear lethal threat.

Let's take the assassination of Father Santoro or the Zirve publishing house massacre in the city of Malatya. Didn't one of the perpetrators involved in the Malatya case answer, "They are Christians, we are Turks," to the attorney's question of what he meant by "they" while he was talking about protestant missionaries? All these people, including the murder suspect of the slain Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, disclose an arrogant tranquility after the completion of a noble religious/national duty. Ali Koç, one of the attorneys involved in the Malatya case, says, "The office of the prosecutor is trying to legitimize the case more than they are trying to unveil it." That is to say, to eliminate a missionary is almost an obligation for a Muslim in order to save the religion and the nation.