"A priest sighted", was how local newspapers reported on Fr. Andrea's visits in the area. In a special report for AsiaNews, an inside look at the anti Christian climate which nurtured the murder of Fr. Andrea Santoro.
Ankara (AsiaNews) - "Last summer I was in Rize, a small town not too far away from Trabzon doing some research for an article on the Black Sea when I was drawn to the title of a local newspaper: 'A priest sighted on the coast road'. The shocked tone of the title made it sound as if they had seen a UFO in the skies above the Black Sea".
This is how journalist Can Dundar begins his article, published February 6th, in the right wing Turkish national daily newspaper Milliyet. He continues: "People I spoke with afterwards brought me to the spot where the priest had been sighted, saying 'he ran towards the hills, the young boys ran after him, they tried to catch him'. The religious leader of Rize stated without hesitation that ' the number of Christian religious coming to our city is on the rise, they have a different intent to ours, we must, our nation must, stay united against them'. The chief party spokesman for the Grey Wolves (MHP) also commented: 'The priests who arrive in our area want to re-establish the Christian Greek-Orthodox state that was here before, there are spies among these priests, working for the West, they are trying to destroy our peace, the people from the Black Sea are conservatives by nature'. Were these declarations, perhaps a sign of the danger to come? - continues the Milliyet journalist - that is, the murder of a priest". Can Dundar draws his conclusion: "If Turkey demands respect and tolerance for all religions from the rest of the world, should Turkey then, not be the first to ensure the protection of members of all the religions that are professed within its borders".
If so, then we can no longer remain silent.
The police have captured the sixteen year old who murdered Fr. Andrea and has doubled surveillance on Churches and Synagogues. But true protection is putting an end to the anti-Christian propaganda spread by the mass-media. To avoid nurturing other assassins.
It is useless to hide the obvious anti- Christian and anti-Western sentiment which permeates the populations of the Black Sea region and beyond, a sentiment that is encouraged by various State Authorities.
Recently a film entitled "The Valley of Wolves- Iraq" was released, a film that is blatantly anti- American and Anti- Christian, a film that was highly publicised and shown in cinema's across Turkey. All the atrocities that we see in the Arab world carried out in the name of Allah are projected onto the American Christians. Christians who massacre Muslim babies in Iraq, who destroy everything, who blow up Mosques while Muslims are gathered in prayer, Muslim religious leaders who forgive and negotiate the release of Christian hostages from the hands of insurgents....A Turkish hero who fights the American army and the religion they represent demonstrating the sublime nature of the Islamic faith.
As if that alone were not enough, for months now in newspapers and on television stations we witness programmes and discussions against Christianity, talk shows and articles which ridicule the Christian religion and Christian beliefs. They promote the theory that Christianity and Judaism are united in the intent to destroy the Islamic religion and that this is why they attack Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine...
This rising antipathy towards Christianity took a turn for the worse following declarations made on television by Rahsan Ecevit, wife of former Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit (socialist and defender of the lay state!) that "the Islamic religion is slipping from our hands, it's loosing vitality, what's more many Muslims are converting to Christianity".
What then, is to be said of school books which portray Christianity as false and ridiculous?
Children and adolescents are taught that the Gospel is false because it was changed and modified to the whim of Popes ....and that before the end of the world Jesus will return to earth to show Christians the true path of Islam...
Why is no one trying to correct these subversive phenomenons and tell the truth? A true meeting of cultures and civilizations which Turkish authorities hold to pursue cannot remain a monologue.