04/19/2007, 00.00
TURKEY
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Protestant Pastor: “secular” Turkey; enough mockery!

The Christian religious tells AsiaNews that the arrest of five young men, in connection with the Malatya massacre, and the cries of condemnation hide the far worse reality of an Islamic country where religious freedom is non existent and false propaganda is spread to target followers of Christ.

Ankara (AsiaNews) – Five young men arrested in connection to yesterday’s murder of three employees of Zirve Christian publishing house in Malatya. Little more than boys, as were the assassins of Don Andrea Santoro and the Christian journalist Hrant Dink, it appears that fanatical religious declarations were found on them.  This is where news of the story ends, accompanied by condemnation – mainly of a generic nature – from Turkey’s political leaders. 

Speaking to AsiaNews a Protestant Pastor outlines the situation in Turkey, where the “secular” State only counts for Christians, while the mass media all too often make use of, indeed even promote, a campaign of disinformation and defamation.   In this case too, the Malata governor Ibrahim Dasoz’s immediate reaction is highly significant; he maintains that it was “not an attack” but rather the result of “internal clashes" within the publishing house, while media reports seek to place responsibility at the door of the deceased whom they accuse of “distributing” Bibles, an activity regarded as proselytism and thus were “enemies of Turkey”.  Even the Turkish Minister for Religious Affairs, Mehmet Aydin, recently declared that those who practise proselytism “divide the nation”.  This is the testimony of a Pastor who for obvious reasons will remain anonymous.

 “Where are we? I am disgusted by theses atrocities which seem to repeat themselves again and again with ever increasing violence, in a country which promotes itself as a secular and democratic majority Muslim nation.  But where is the respect for differences, for the religious and ethnic minorities present on the territory?  We were almost used to the continual background slander and  accusations of proselytism, of giving out money and faith, we were almost used to being ladled as “infidel Muslim grabbers”, who – poor things – allow themselves be brainwashed by us, convinced by a mere handful of dollars hidden in a Bible.  But we never could have imagined that all of this would have led to such an atrocious gesture, prepared in the name of God, carried out against Christians”.

How is it possible to carry on believing these lies? Why does no-one actually take time out to really listen to converts, to their daily tragedies, to their efforts, to their refund hope in the Risen Christ who died for them?  Why have they never asked us, with sincerity and in desire to know our faith, about the God we believe in?  The want to frighten us, they want to cancel us, reduce us to nothing, but these murders reveal that they are the ones who are frightened, that they are the ones who turn to violence in order to silence us, despite the fact that there is no reason one to be opposed to the other, they have no reason to fear dialogue with us.

Yesterdays act was a horrific one: three employees were brutally slaughtered, blindfolded them, their hands and feet bound and their throats slit.  Yet again it appears to have been carried out by five young fanatical university students, who completely out of their minds carried out this ferocious act for the love of Allah.

Why to they persist in mocking us? Today, Turkey cries out at the shocking scandal, against the nightmare of religious hatred which persists, yet no-one is courageous enough to really take a stand, to condemn not only this religious hatred, but also the mass media which with great subtly and cunning continues to brainwash people with propaganda which incites them to believe that we are evil, that we want to wipe them out, to take away their faith and turn them from their beliefs in the God of Mohammad.  Is it not perhaps the opposite?  Look at the figures, look at the statistics: they tell us that since the era of Ataturk the construction of places of worship have been banned, and for this we are not authorized to open new churches, only there where there is already a Christian presence (usually foreigners), but the mosques sprout up like mushrooms all over Turkey.  They tells us that , once again due to Ataturks’ laws, we cannot run courses of Christian formation, seminars, nor  – taking into account what happened yesterday – can we produce didactic materials to educate or inform Christians.  Why, I ask,  does no-one speak out against courses on the Koran which are held each summer in public schools for children?

They fear conversions, but its nota s if we are a pack of missionaries who go around baptizing all everybody we meet: let us count the numbers of newly converted, let us count the numbers of pastors and religious who live on Turkish soil, then let us count the number of Imams who receive a monthly wage from the State, let us count the number of Christians who go to Islam due to work pressures or marriage, if we do so we see there can be no doubts about the massive imbalance.

If Turkey truly wants to be a free, democratic, secular republic, then it has to stop mocking us. Rather it should seriously commit itself to defending and safeguarding the rights of each citizen, of each person despite their ethnic or religious background.  But is their really the will to do so?  Who is it that wants to make us hate this land and these people who we came to serve and help, and for whom we are ready to give our own lives?  Let us begin to admit in all honesty and transparency who is behind the murders, which for over a year now, have been plaguing the nation of Turkey: after don Andrea Santoro, Hrant Dink, and our three Presbyterian employees, whose turn is it next?  

 

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