11/17/2003, 00.00
Turkey
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Christian and Muslim solidarity with Jews

Istanbul (AsiaNews ) – Catholic bishops in Turkey sent messages of condolence and solidarity to Dr. Issak Haleva, Turkey's Grand Rabbai, and to Hon. Muammer Gueler,  governor of Istanbul, the spokesman of Turkey's Bishops Conference, Gorge Marovich, told AsiaNews. In their message to the Grand Rabbai, bishops said they "filled with sorrow and condemned the terrible the act of violence and terror." In the message to the governor, bishops offered words of comfort to him and all citizens of Istanbul. 

Yesterday, Churches of every denomination and rite gathered together in prayer and visited nearby synagogues. The entire population –of all religious creeds—showed their solidarity by responding to appeals for blood donations needed for urgent transfusions at hospitals caring for the numerous victims of the attacks. The government stated it would cover hospital costs for the care of wounded and will repay all damages resulting from the attacks.   

The Jewish community, which in Istanbul counts 20,000 members, is no doubt Turkish. Together with other groups dispersed throughout the territory, it has always enjoyed esteem and respect and has never felt its rights and faith tread upon.

The objective of the attacks seems to assume a wider and deeper meaning. They are in fact a statement against the processes of integration and democracy in multicultural regions, which for some time now in Turkey has been feared and undesired by extremist factions. 

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan affirms that this act against Turkish citizens has been designed to shake Turkish tranquility, peace and stability.

With 20 dead (of which only 6 were Jews) and over 300 wounded, the attempt is interpreted not only as an attack against a religious community, but the entire population. The harshest words come from Muslim representatives, which decisively remove themselves from association with any terrorist activity.

The Nov. 16 editorial of the Hurriyet, Turkey's most influential daily, states: "Terrorism can now penetrate any place and in Istanbul it  has revealed itself in all its might by striking persons in prayer. This was a grave and aberrant event: It did not hesitate to take action against fellow countrymen at a time of their greatest vulnerability, intent on offering themselves to God in a place of worship. Those who undertook such action, from whatever country they hail, are not real Muslims nor will they ever be, even if they declare themselves so, after having desecrated a sacred place during a sacred moment."   

Furthermore it stated: "This act is a threat to modern society and democracy. Whosoever is desirous of this cannot help but define the act as barbarous and uncivil. Terror affects Israel and America just as much as it does Muslim nations. It is a monster wishing to sow hate and discord. All humanity must take into account what to do so as not to be fooled by this monster prevailing throughout the world, and who promises to drink the blood of innocent victims." (MZ) 

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