The Hatred against Christians has Escalated in Turkey

1/24/2008 11:04:00 AM

On December 30, 2007, in the popular tourist resort of Antalya, Turkey, the police has revealed and stopped a secret murder plot. The aim was to kill Ramazan Arkan, a priest working in The Church of Incil, in Antalya. The case resembles other attacks targeted against Christians in Turkey, where the hatred against Christians has escalated lately.

In a news feature, the Turkish TV channel HABERTÜRK reported that Turkish police in Antalya has revealed and thus prevented the planned assassination. A 22-year-old man was arrested for preparation of murder of the Orthodox priest Ramazan Arkan.

According to several Turkish newspapers, the suspect has, during interrogations, said that he has become inspired by the TV-series ”Valley of the Wolves”, a popular TV-series among Turkish ultranationalists. The series has also been released here in Sweden in a movie version on DVD. The police neither confirms nor denies these statements.

ESNA has earlier reported about an Italian, Catholic priest, who was stabbed in his stomach by a younger male in the port city of Izmir, in western Turkey. The priest, Adriano Franchini, survived the attack, and shortly thereafter the perpetrator, who had been influenced by different Internet sites which point out Christians as traitors, was arrested.

In April 2007, five university students in Malatya, eastern Turkey cut the throats off three Christians – a German citizen and two Turks – at a Bible publishing company. Before the killings, the three victims had been tortured for hours.

On February 5, 2006, the Catholic Italian priest Andrea Santoro was shot to death in his church by a 16-year-old boy, in the Turkish city of Trabzon at the Black Sea. The Agape church, which has reopened for divine service since 2003, in Samsun at the Black Sea, has been terrorized several times. The minister, Orhan Pıçaklar, received several threats via e-mail and telephone. Despite several reports to the police, the threats have continued. The police, who on January 5th tapped the telephone conversation of a suspect, heard the 17-year old adolescent brag about how he would kill the minister of the Agape church, and become famous on TV. But the court handling the case saw no need for detaining the young man; he was released, but however prohibited to leave the country.

On hundreds of Internet sites, Christians are pointed out to be missionaries, and thus threats against national security. On TV-series, such as “Valley of the Wolves” (Kurtlar Vadisi), which is aired on ”Show TV” and ”Black Snake” (Kara Yilan), which is aired on tv-channel “A TV”, ultranationalist emotions are incited. All these actions make Christians feel unsafe in Turkey.

On January 19 2007, the Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, was murdered in broad daylight outside the premises of the newspaper Agos, in Constantinople (Istanbul). A few days after the murder, the 17-year old killer, Ogun Samast, was arrested.

The Turkish police, who treated the murderer like a national hero, proudly posed with a Turkish flag in their hands, in front of the cameras, and boasted about taking pictures with the killer.

On Ocotber 12, 2007, Arat Dink, son of the murdered Hrant Dink, and the responsible for the publication of the newspaper Agos, Serkis Seropyan, were sentenced to one year of conditional jail sentence for ”desecrating Turkishness”. The sentence is based on the very same paragraph that Hrant Dink was judged for, paragraph 301 in the Turkish penal code. Arat dink, who received several threats after the sentence, was forced to flee Turkey on the 6th of November 2007.

The European Union has for a long time protested against the fact that Turkey, a country applying for membership in the European Union, has failed protect the human rights and the religious freedom of the very small Christian minority. On the contrary – the development has been towards the opposite direction.

However, Turkey sees herself as a secular state with religious freedom. In the beginning of the 20th century, one third of the population in Turkey was Christian. As a consequence of Seyfo – the genocide against the Assyrians, Armenians and Pontic Greeks during World War I - with subsequent pogroms, barely 100,000 of the Christians remain out of a 75 million large population in Turkey.