Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 454 | Wed 14 Nov 2007
On 18 April 2007 Turkish convert Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur
Yuksel and a German Christian, Tilmann Geske, were tortured and
murdered in the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya, southern Turkey.
They had not realised that two young Turkish Muslims who appeared
to be showing an interest in the gospel were actually part of a
group plotting their assassination. The murder trial of the five
assassins, all aged 19-20, opens in Malatya's Third Criminal Court
on Friday 23 November. Seven others have been charged with 'aiding
and abetting' but have not been named or arrested.
At the time, most Turks were shocked by the brutality of the
senseless slayings. But time has passed and several local issues
are fuelling Turkish nationalist zeal. The Kurdish separatist PKK
has recently escalated its campaign of terror, killing more than 40
Turkish soldiers in eastern Turkey in the past month. Now Turkey is
positioned to launch an incursion into Northern Iraq to shut down
PKK sanctuaries there. The Iraq Kurds are allied to the US,
straining Turkish-American relations. Furthermore, Turkey is once
again being challenged to confront its history and, for the sake of
reconciliation, accept its culpability in the Armenian genocide of
1915. Accordingly the European Union is demanding that Turkey
repeal a controversial law, Article 301, which makes it illegal to
denigrate Turkishness (for example through accusations of
genocide). Turkish nationalist politicians and journalists are
capitalising on the widespread Turkish fear that, nearly a century
after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish territory,
religion and dignity are again under threat from both external
foreign powers and internal ethnic and religious minorities.
Compass Direct reports (5 Nov): 'All news about the pending trial
in the Turkish press last week sensationalised justifications the
killers offered for their crimes while under police interrogation,
including far-fetched allegations against the victims', including
the 'missionaries' were prostituting girls and were linked to the
PKK. One of the assassins claimed also to have been planning to
kill another Protestant pastor, who has been identified in the
Turkish media. One Protestant leader in Turkey told Compass, 'These
people want to portray Turkey's Protestants as enemies of the
nation.' He also explains: 'Because honour is such an important
concept in our culture, they are trying to accuse us of having weak
morals, so that they can find a justification for their murders.'
The killers, all young Turkish Muslim nationalists, claim the
motive for the murders was to stop Christians from defaming Islam
and the Turkish nation. Disinformation mixed with rising Turkish
and Muslim nationalism is making security tenuous for Christians in
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR -
* God to protect Christian pastors, leaders, evangelists and church
members in Turkey who are now at risk due to disinformation and
incitement. 'On him we have set our hope that he will continue to
deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.' (2 Corinthians
* God to restrain the voices that incite hatred by fabricating or
perpetuating lies intended to justify murder and remove shame.
* our sovereign and provident God to use this trial for his glory,
exposing the danger and ugliness of ethnic and religious hatred,
as well as illuminating the honour and grace of his servants and
his wonderful gospel of atonement through Jesus.
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Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.