Turkey’s Tradition of Murdering Christians
- Turkey’s countless agreements with Western organizations do not seem to have reduced the hatred for Christians there.
- In Turkey, it is “ordinary people” who murder or attack Christians, then the judiciary or political system somehow find a way of enabling the perpetrators to get away with the crimes. Most of these crimes are not covered by the international media and Turkey is never held responsible.
- While Muslims are pretty much free to practice their religion and express their views on other religions anywhere in the world, Christians and other non-Muslims can be killed in Turkey and other Muslim-majority countries just for attempting peacefully to practice their religion or openly express their views.
- “Multiculturalism,” which is passionately defended by many liberals in the West, could have worked wonders in multi-ethnic and multi-religious places such as Anatolia. But unfortunately, Islamic ideology allows only one culture, one religion, and one way of thinking under their rule: Islam. Ironically, this is the central fact these liberals do not want to see.
On 26 July, the northern French town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray witnessed a horrific Islamist attack: Two Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists killed an 85-year-old priest, Jacques Hamel, in his church during Mass. Two nuns and two churchgoers were taken hostage.
The terrorists, who had pledged allegiance to ISIS and, shouting “Allahu Akbar”, slit the throat of the priest and captured the bloody episode on video, according to a nun who escaped the assault.
Such Islamist attacks might be new to EU member countries but not to Turkey. For decades, so many innocent, defenseless Christians in Turkey have been slaughtered by Muslim assailants.
Christians in Turkey are still attacked, murdered or threatened daily; the assailants usually get away with their crimes.
In Malatya, in 2007, during the Zirve Bible Publishing House massacre, three Christian employees were attacked, severely tortured, then had their hands and feet tied and their throats cut by five Muslims on April 18, 2007.
Nine years have passed, but there still has been no justice for the families of the three men who were murdered so savagely.
First, the five suspects who were still in detention were released from their high-security prison by a Turkish court, which ruled that their detention exceeded newly-adopted legal limits.
The trial is still ongoing. The prosecutor claims that the act “was not a terrorist act because the perpetrators did not have a hierarchic bond, their act was not continuous and the knives they used in the massacre did not technically suffice to make the act be regarded as a terrorist act.”
If the court accepts this legal opinion of the prosecutor, it could pave the way for an acquittal. However, given the many “mysterious” rulings of the Turkish judiciary system to acquit criminals, these killers could also be acquitted by a “surprise” ruling any time.
Ironically, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in March that it is necessary to redefine terrorism to include those who support such acts, adding that they could be journalists, lawmakers or activists. There was no difference, he said, between “a terrorist holding a gun or a bomb and those who use their position and pen to serve the aims” of terrorists.
In a country where state authorities are outspokenly so “sensitive” about “terrorism” and “people holding guns,” why are the murderers of Christians not in jail, and why is the prosecutor trying to portray the murders of Christians as “non-terroristic acts”?
Sadly, the three Christians in Malatya were neither the first nor the last Christians to be murdered in Turkey.
On February 5, 2006, Father Andrea Santoro, a 61-year-old Roman Catholic priest, was murdered in the Santa Maria Church in the province of Trabzon. He was shot while kneeling in prayer at his church. Witnesses heard the 16-year-old murderer shout “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is the Greatest”) during the murder.
After the murder, a 74-year-old priest, Father Pierre François René Brunissen, from Samsun, led the next church service in Santoro’s church, which boasted barely a dozen members. Because no one volunteered to replace Santoro, Father Pierre was instructed to travel from Samsun to Trabzon each month to care for the city’s small congregation.
“This is a terrible incident,” Father Pierre said. “It is a sin to kill a person. After all of these incidents, I am worried about my life here.”
The attacks against the Christian culture in Anatolia continue in modern times — even after Turkey joined the Council of Europe in 1949 and NATO in 1952.
Turkey’s countless agreements with Western organizations do not seem to have reduced the hatred for Christians there. In March, 2007, as the Christian community of Mersin was preparing for the Easter, a young Muslim man with a kebab knife entered the church andattacked the priests, Roberto Ferrari and Henry Leylek.
Mersin, in southern Turkey, is home to Tarsus, the birthplace of Saint Paul, and to several churches dating from the earliest Christian era.
As the Christian roots of Anatolia weakened, so did its bonds with Western civilization. “The attack against the priest is an indicator that Ankara is not ready for Europe,” a Roman Catholic Cardinal and theologian, Walter Kasper, told the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera. “There is some amount of tolerance but there is not real freedom. Turkey has to change many things. This change is not about laws. A change of mentality is needed. But you cannot change mentality in one day.”
Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, said: “We do not feel safe. I am very worried. Fanaticism is developing in some groups. Some people want to poison the atmosphere and catholic priests are targeted. Anti-missionary films are broadcast on TV channels.”
At a commemorative ceremony for Father Santoro in February, Bishop Padovese said:
“Today, we are asking the question we asked four years ago: Why? We are also asking the same question for all other victims so unjustly murdered even though they were innocent. Why? What was it that they tried to destroy by murdering Father Andrea? Just a person or what that person represented? The aim of shooting Father Andrea was definitely to shoot a Catholic cleric. His being a Father became the reason of his martyrdom.
“The message of Christ on the cross is clear. ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ Had they known, they would not have done that. It is wrong to extinguish a life to uphold an idea. It is wrong to think that a person who disagrees with us is at fault and should be destroyed. This is the fundamentalism that crumbles a society. For it wrecks coexistence. This fundamentalism — regardless of what religion or political view it belongs to — might win a few battles but it is doomed to lose the war. This
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