Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Turkey is at a Crossroad"

"From Tucson to Turkey"
Turkey is a secular nation and it's the only Muslim country in the world that has no state sponsored religion. The younger generation wants more Democratic freedoms while its older and more traditional leaders want Islamic law to rule. There's close to 70 million people in Turkey and 99% of them are Muslim but there's a small number of Jews and Christians scattered in the mix, including the the arch bishop of the Armenian Catholic Church, "I am the arch bishop who is taking care of all the churches in Turkey," he tells us.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Turkey fails on promise to re-open seminary, US says

Turkey fails on promise to re-open seminary, US says - Turkish Daily News Sep 22, 2008
The Turkish government has repeatedly pledged to reopen the Halki (Heybeliada) Greek Orthodox seminary in Istanbul, but has so far failed to keep its promise, a senior U.S. official has said. John Hanford, ambassador-at-large for religious freedom at the U.S. State Department said the United States had been urging and would continue to urge Turkey to reopen the theological university based on Istanbul's Heybeliada Island. "I have personally raised them with the ambassador to Turkey. Our embassy continues to urge the government of Turkey to address these issues, topermit the opening of the Halki seminary, to further expand religious freedom in general," Hanford said, speaking at a news conference late Friday for the release of the department's annual report on international religious freedoms.

Turks conservative but relaxed about it, a poll shows

Turks conservative but relaxed about it, a poll shows
Ninety-four percent of Turks identify themselves as religious, very few are practicing this month's holy fast or regularly pray five times a day, a recent poll showed.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Facebook debate in Turkey

Facebook debate in Turkey - Radio Netherlands Worldwide - The State We're In
Facebook, along with other social networking groups, is set to play a key role in Turkey's attempts to creating a new constitution and a society based on democracy and human rights. But the jury is still out about whether Facebook will empower people and draw them together or simply add to the polarization of Turkish society.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Islamic charity bosses jailed for fraud

The chiefs of an Islamic charity were sent to prison in Germany on Wednesday after the Turkish men had admitted siphoning millions of euros away from alms donated by devout Muslims for the poor.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Malatya victims seek compensation, question whole system

Malatya victims seek compensation, question whole system
The relatives of two Turkish citizens who were brutally killed in Malatya last year filed a joint petition with an administrative court in Ankara last week to open a compensation case against authorities whom they believe are responsible for the murder of their loved ones.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Testimony in the murder case of three Christians here indicates the attack was premeditated for at least two suspects, despite the defense team’s insistence that the killers acted spontaneously.

The 11th hearing on the murders at a publishing house in this southeastern city 17 months ago took place Friday (Sept. 12) at the Malatya Third Criminal Court. Two Turkish Christians who converted from Islam, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, and a German, Tilmann Geske, were brutally tortured and killed on April 18, 2007.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Malatya killer might have hinted of murders to girlfriend

Malatya killer might have hinted of murders to girlfriend
The 11th hearing of the trial over the murder of three Christians in the southeastern province of Malatya in 2007 convened yesterday. Two witnesses who knew some of the suspects before the incident, including suspect Emre Günaydın's girlfriend Turna Işıklı, testified at yesterday's hearing.

Işıklı told the court she had stopped talking to Günaydın when she found he had feelings for her but said the two made up later through a friend. In response to a question from the judge as to whether she was aware of Günaydın's political leanings, she said no.

Işıklı was asked during cross-examination what Günaydın might have meant in an SMS message he wrote to her one day before the murders in which he said, "I will be at the interrogation tomorrow." Işıklı said she thought it meant Günaydın would be "questioned" by her father over school-related matters.

Meanwhile, Günaydın shouted at one of the lawyers for the victims' families when the lawyer's phone rang to "Switch it off, you are disturbing my concentration."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Orthodox Christianity under threat

Orthodox Christianity under threat - International Herald Tribune
When Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and his Islamic-rooted party came under fierce fire this summer from secularists, who came close to persuading the country's supreme court to bar both from politics, he called the campaign an attack against religious freedom and a threat to Turkey's efforts to join the European Union.

Yet in nearly six years in power, Erdogan has shown no inclination to extend even a modicum of religious freedom to the most revered Christian institution in Turkey - the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the spiritual center of 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world. As a result, Turkey's persecution of the Patriarchate looms as a major obstacle to its European aspirations, and rightly so.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Kalenderhane Mosque: a former church with a long history

[SACRED SITES] The Kalenderhane Mosque: a former church with a long history
İstanbul, the former capital of the Ottoman Empire, is home to many mosques that were formerly churches prior to the conquest of the city by Mehmet II in 1453. One such historical jewel is located in the Vezneciler area of Eminönü, though it lacks the fame of the Aya Sofya.

The Kalenderhane Mosque in Vezneciler, close to the Fatih district, is just one of many such examples. Built as a church by the Byzantines, the small mosque first served as a dervish convent after the conquest of Constantinople and then as a mosque

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Turkish municipality recognizes Alevi places of worship

Turkish municipality recognizes Alevi places of worship
The assembly houses at which Turkey's Alevi communities pray, known as cemevis, have been approved as official places of worship in Turkey for the first time with a key decision taken by a regional municipality.