Ankara (AsiaNews) – The front pages of Turkey’s numerous papers are covered today with the declarations of the young men arrested in connection with the atrocious murder of three Christians – employees of a Protestant Publisher – who were bound, tortured and had their throats slit. The question begs as to why so much space was given over to detail accounts of the cuts inflicted on the victims, as to who bound them and who beat them, where and in what manner. What need is there to meditate over who these young men, who were due to begin their university career, are; over what type of family background they come from, which social class they belong to, or what their ideologies are. Yet these are the questions that fill today’s national papers, not the one lingering question as to who motivated them to such violence. Can it really be just another case of five young men, little more that boys, gone out of their minds?
What remains is the shocking truth of the horrific act. What is even more alarming, as underlined yesterday during a press conference held by representatives from the Protestant Church present on the round, through the Turkish Pastor Ihsan Ozbek from the Church of Salvation: “there is no use in denying it any longer, it was a crime we all anticipated, it came as no great surprise given that we live in a climate where we expect the worst to happen at any given moment, its an open witch hunt against Christians!”.
Radikal, is one of the only papers which, today in a front page article, admits with great clarity that it is pure hypocrisy to shed tears, condemn and denounce this ferocious attack which has been a long time coming and moreover has been fermented by the subtle and poisonous affirmations made by politicians across the political divide.
“The Public Security – the article reads – has been long sounding the alarm against the worrying spread of Christianity in Turkey, in its affirmations that out of a population of 70 million, 10,000 have converted to Christianity, as a result of Protestant missionary work on the ground. Moreover the Minister for Internal Affairs made public that between 1999 and 2001, 334 Muslims chose to be baptised. Looking at the numbers – continues the paper – it doesn’t seem an elevated amount, yet for years now opposition politicians have been crying out red alert. This is the climate of fear which prepared the ground for the Malatya slaughter”.
Hurriyet journalist, Ertugrul Ozkok, in an article entitled “I beg you dear friends”, warns against this rampant paranoia regarding Christian missionaries. “In the last three years there have been 216 converts: and this frightens you? Then what on earth should Germany say, given that you have opened thousands of mosques and your Imams can preach openly and freely and you can publish you books on Islam? There, thousands of Muslims can come and go in freedom without fear of having their throats cut. All of you, believers and lay exclaim that the religion is slipping away and yet in Turkey over 99.8% of the population are Muslim. Only Saudi Arabia can boast as high a number, of followers of Islam. In Syria 20% of the population is Christian, in Egypt 25%, and yet you continue to spread “fear of minorities”. You are frightened by the sale of three or maybe five Bibles? Does our religion not accept this sacred book? What race of Islam is yours? Do you really believe that even if we murdered every last remaining Christian in Turkey the thirst for blood would end? I appeal to my brother journalists: let us stop searching for excuses to justify these crimes, let us put an end to the misuse of religion as a weapon to destroy ourselves”.
The young wife and mother of three small, blue eyed children, of the murdered German Pastor made an appeal along these lines in a highly touching interview with ATV: “We have been in Malatya for over ten years now, everyone respected and cared for us. I want to forgive my husbands assassins because I believe they don’t know what they have done. My husband was killed in the name of Jesus Christ, and because of his love of Him. We want to go on living here, my children go to school here and I want my husband to be buried here in the city cemetery, so my son can go a place flowers on his grave and in doing so draw strength to go on hoping and believing”. The wife of Necati Aydin (see photo), also assassinated while he was at work in the publishing house in Malatya, expressed her profound sorrow, but without hatred towards his murderers: “God forgive them for their deeds”, she affirmed with determination.
The victims’ funeral will be held tomorrow in the Anglican Church of Smirne.