02/09/2006, 00.00
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Fanatics filled Father Andrea's assassin with (wrong) ideas

by Mavi Zambak
According to the Turkish press, the murder was not the act of an isolated gunman. The young assassin was linked to extremist religious circles. In Trabzon a town hall meeting condemns the killing of "a man of God".

Ankara (AsiaNews) – Fanatics filled Fr Andrea Santoro's assassin with (wrong) ideas, titled Turkish daily Vatan, and other Turkish papers agree. They reported today that the young man who shot Father Andrea had met Islamic fundamentalists in an internet café. The man's father said that he got "his orders via internet".

In Trabzon yesterday, city leaders officially condemned the murder. The mayor called a town hall meeting to say No to violence and terror and Yes to brotherhood and peace.

Despite different accounts based on the assassin's confession, Turkish papers agree that the murder was the result of Islamic fanaticism and the recurring accusation of proselytism levelled at Christians who are seen by many as a threat to the Muslim religion. . . .

The baby faced murderer, who has not yet turned 16, comes from a broken family. His divorced mother is actively involved in the in Trabzon branch of the ruling Islamist AKP party, whilst his remarried father is a dentist. The teenager lived with his father's reconstituted family.

The Turkish press is unanimous in reporting that young man, known by his initials O.A., befriended some fanatics in an internet café . . . who were able to draw him away from school to their meetings.

Reading Vatan's account, one is appalled so much so that anyone who still believes in the lone gunman theory must change their minds. Turks must also look inward and see what is going one in their midst. They might then see that their society is not as secular as they might think.

Press accounts suggest that O.A. met and befriended an academic, someone named Hüsseiyn, in an internet café where they engaged in heated discussion over religion, especially the increasing activities of Christian missionaries. Eventually, Hüsseiyn urged the teenager to attend lectures a "teacher" called Ali was giving, usually to groups of young men, on how the (Islamic) "religion is slipping from our hands".

Last week-end, the "teacher" spoke about the infamous Danish cartoons. Both lecturer and audience agreed that they "offend Islam, and that priests in Turkey are missionaries, give money to the young, increase the size of their communities and engage in activities to destroy Islam." The result was that anger rose among those present.

"The situation in Trabzon is the same. That priest who offends us must die," Hüsseiyn said. "I'll kill him," said an overwrought O.A. to the cheering crowd, who acclaimed him as a hero of religion.

And so last Sunday, after taking his older brother's 9 millimetre gun, he and his nine-year-old half-brother met a schoolmate at the internet café and then the three proceeded to go to the church. The gunman's two companions stayed outside whilst he went inside as mass was underway. He came out and showed the gun to his half-brother and to his friend, telling them "I am going to destroy that priest" and then went back in.

After the murder he left his half-brother with his step-mother and went to his mother's house where he told her about the murder. His mother took him to a barbershop hoping that he might not be recognised with shorter hair. In the end, he was arrested. . . .

Very different denouement at yesterday's meeting in Trabzon City Hall's main hall: some 200 people from all walks of life came together to condemn Fr Andrea Santoro's killing. At the initiative of the mayor himself, a town hall meeting was called as a way to condemn violence and terror and promote brotherhood and peace.

"Unfortunately, to reach its ends violence takes different forms," said Deputy Mayor Kemal Kilic on behalf of all those present. "[Those who indulge in violence] use sinister and nefarious means and plot murders in every corner of the earth. Such provocations are an insult to human dignity."

Speaking about Father Andrea's murder, he said for all to hear that "the motive for the assassination will come out, but whatever it may be, since it touched a man of God at prayer, those responsible for this atrocity have committed a grave offence against the city of Trabzon, Turkey and humanity as a whole".

In a deafeningly silent hall, the deputy mayor said: "Whatever triggered the deed, killing another human being, even more so if it is a man of God, that is the act of taking someone's life—which is the first right every human being has—can never, never be approved or accepted. This act can never be justified."

"On behalf of the people of Trabzon, whatever their political persuasion, I unreservedly condemn this murder. The bullets that struck Fr Santoro also struck peace, our sense of civic duty, and [our feeling of] brotherhood."

"In a place that is a crossroad of history, we say to our fellow men and women, that whatever your faith, traditions, race, nationality or gender, every human being remains a fellow brother. Let us stay away from those who use our differences as weapons and plot to pin us one against the other. Instead, let us condemn every type of violence and terror that is against life."

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See also
The court had no jurisdiction to deny the patriarchate its ecumenical status, says Bartholomew
Sentence for Father Santoro’s murderer upheld
In Trabzon Cardinal Ruini calls for religious freedom in memory of Father Santoro
Dink murder: the religious authorities remain silent, the media withholds condemnation
Killing of Hrant Dink and Fr Santoro: too many similarities


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