Friday, March 26, 2010

Christians, Muslims, empathy

by Orhan Kemal Cengiz

I am always struck by this enormous lack of empathy in Turkey. People cannot go out of their own identities; they do not try to feel what other people may be feeling under certain circumstances. Maybe each time I should give them some examples in which they themselves would appear as victims. How would a devout Muslim feel if his son was forced to make the “sign of the cross” in a mandatory religious lesson in a European country after he has explained that he is actually Muslim? Would his father accept that his son should tolerate this behavior because Christianity is the prevailing religious belief in that country? I don’t think this would happen.

In Turkey many things happen to non-Muslims which would drive Muslims crazy if the same things happened to them in a non-Muslim country. In spite of the lack of any legal provision criminalizing religious propaganda, Christian missionaries in Turkey have been arrested, interrogated and even put into jail for just trying to introduce their religious beliefs.

In the year 2000, Necati Aydın and Ercan Şengül were taken into custody while distributing Bibles and were arrested by the court in Kemalpaşa, İzmir. When I was looking at their file, something immediately struck me. There was a list of documents and publications seized from their houses and vehicles, and these materials were listed as “evidence of crime.” “Bibles” were amongst them. What would happen if this had occurred in a Christian country and the Quran was listed as “evidence of crime”?

This lack of empathy, which is partly caused by our cultural codes and partly because of the injection of nationalist sentiment into religious identities, is at the same time the biggest obstacle to understanding how the political system functions in Turkey. These two Christians became victims of a trap set by “deep state” elements back then. Şengül was interrogated by people who introduced themselves as members of JİTEM (an illegal extension of the gendarmerie) when he was arrested in Kemalpaşa. However, no one paid any attention to the details of this incident in the year 2000. Seven years later, Aydın was killed in a barbaric way in Malatya along with two other victims whose only crime was being Christian. Once again “the deep state” was in the background.

Because of this lack of empathy toward different identities, Turkish people have never fully understood the root causes of state-sponsored crimes and the general framework within which these deep state elements operate in Turkey. They never questioned how they were used by these deep state elements to oppress other groups.

You cannot understand today’s “deep state” in Turkey if you do not understand Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa (an Ottoman intelligence agency), which orchestrated Armenian massacres. If you do not understand the insidious plans aimed at totally destroying the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey, you cannot understand how plans were being prepared to “finish off the [Justice and Development Party] AKP and the Gülen movement”; without understanding the “wealth tax” (1942), which aimed to rob non-Muslims, and the Sept. 6-7, 1955 pogroms, you cannot understand Ergenekon’s “Cage plan,” which targeted Christians to destroy the devout Muslim prime minister.

A lack of empathy is the root cause of your poor vision, which prevents you from understanding your own country and yourself. What you need to do is too simple: Each time you should ask yourself how would you feel if you were in this or that person’s situation. All you need is to have a little empathy. It will make huge difference when you have it!

Full Article

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Turkey permits religious rite at Armenian church

Turkey permits religious rite at Armenian church [ WORLD BULLETIN- TURKEY NEWS, WORLD NEWS ]

A religious rite may take place once every year at eastern province of Van's Akdamar Church upon a proposal by the Van Governorship and approval by the Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertugrul Gunay.

The rite at the Akdamar Church may take place each year in the second week of September.

Governor of Van Munir Karaloglu said that the decision to permit a rite at Akdamar Church will boost faith tourism in the region and provide important advantages for those in the tourism sector.

Akdamar is an Armenian church located on Akdamar Island in Lake Van. The church was restored recently.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

AKP ministers differ over Halki seminary opening

AKP ministers differ over Halki seminary opening - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review
The Turkish government issued conflicting signals on the long-debated opening of the Halki seminary Thursday, with one deputy prime minister announcing the government has decided to open the facility as another said it is impossible without constitutional change.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Official: 57 dead in earthquake in eastern Turkey

Please be in prayer, for the people of this province.  Pray that local believers would fine opportunity to help.

The Associated Press: Official: 57 dead in earthquake in eastern Turkey
An official says the death toll in the strong earthquake that hit eastern Turkey has reached 57.

A mayor says 57 people have died in the quake that struck six villages in Elazig province.

The quake struck Elazig at 4:32 a.m. (0232 GMT) and was centered near the village of Basyurt. It was followed by several aftershocks, including one measuring 5.5.

The quake was felt in the neighboring provinces of Tunceli, Bingol and Diyarbakir, where residents fled to the streets in panic and spent the night outdoors.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Coup attempts to overturn government; provides opportunities for the Gospel instead

Mission Network News
According to Israel National News, over 200 people were arrested for alleged involvement in the recent military coup to overthrow the Turkish government. Perpetrators included high ranking generals and politicians.

Several reports say that the secularist coup had been in the making since 2003 when the Justice and Development (AK) party came to power. Sources go on to say that the coup planned to bomb several mosques, and that a staged conflict with Greece was underway in order to justifiably overturn the mostly Muslim government.

Although Christians were not directly involved in this conflict, Behnan Konutgan with I.N. Network in Turkey says they were originally a target of the coup.

"These plans to overthrow the regime also included plans to kill and persecute Christians so that they could blame the Islamic party," says Konutgan. Fortunately these threats were extinguished by the Turkish government, which has been protecting Turkish Christians. Konutgan says Christians are in no real danger at this time.

However, believers do have a role to play in the wake of this uprising. Fighting between groups has been going on for over 30 years, according to Konutgan. This unrest is causing a country comprised of 99 percent Muslims to reevaluate.

"People are really tired of this [unrest]," notes Konutgan. "This political unrest leads people to question what they have always believed, and they are searching for answers. This situation opens a door for Muslims to think about Christ."

Christians have the opportunity to share their faith as Turks search out truth after the upheaval. Konutgan believes many will take that opportunity, but asks that all believers pray.

"Pray that all church members will be prepared to take every opportunity to glorify God and reach the people of Turkey with the salvation of Christ."