Thursday, July 06, 2006

Lest We Forget, Part XXVI

Join me in praying for Christians in Turkey.

Anti-Christian Sentiment Growing in Turkey

In full ...

The attack on a Catholic priest in Samsun on Sunday, which follows the killing of another priest in Trabzon earlier in the year, was reported on by European dailies as an indicator of rising anti-Christian sentiment in Turkey.

Prominent French daily Le Figaro wrote "It seems as if there's an anti-Christian atmosphere emerging in Turkey" in its report on the incident. The paper also reported that the Directorate of Religious Affairs is accusing missionaries in the country of being on a crusade although the number of people who've converted to Christianity in the last seven years is 350 in Turkey.

Le Figaro reported on the Sunday's stabbing of French priest Pierre Brunissen with the headline: "Anti-Christian sentiment growing in Turkey," underlining that attacks on Christian clergy in the country have increased in recent months.

Noting that there have been four attacks on Christian clergy in the last six months, the paper described the killing of a priest in Trabzon in February as a shameful incident for Turkey as a European Union member candidate.

Underlining that the EU has requested Turkey make special efforts in the treatment of non-Muslim minorities, the report said that Pope Benedict XVI is expected to visit the country in November, adding, "An anti-Christian sentiment is growing in secular Turkey, where 99 percent of the population is Muslim."

Quoting a recent report released by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) which says anti-Christian trends in Turkey are somehow comparable to rising Islamophobia in Europe, the report emphasized that the Directorate of Religious Affairs has accused missionaries in Turkey of being on a crusade.

Directorate of Religious Affairs head Ali Bardakoglu condemned the attack on the Catholic priest yesterday, saying, "No matter what the motives are, we condemn this attack against a a guest in our country."

He added added that to accuse Turkish people of intolerance towards other faiths and beliefs as a result of an isolated incident would be unfair.

Underlining that Christians, Jews and Muslims have lived in Anatolia in peace for centuries and will continue to do so in the future, Bardakoglu wished the priest a speedy recovery.