19 April 2007

Bible Publishers Murdered

A German and two Turkish employees of a publishing house that distributes Bibles in eastern central Turkey have had their throats slashed, their hands and feet first being bound and their mouths gagged, despite being police protection.

The attack took place in the city of Malatya, a known stronghold of nationalists about 500 miles southeast of Istanbul and the hometown of Mehmet Ali Agca, who attempted to assassinate the late Pope John Paul II in 1981. The police arrived in time to see one of the assailants jumping from a second floor window and detained a total of five suspects at the scene. A Turkish television station has claimed the youths were all carrying an identical note declaring, "We did this for our country. They are attacking our religion."

It is believed the attack was the work of a local Islamist militant group and police are investigating the possible involvement of Turkish Hizbollah, the Kurdish Islamic group that aims to form a Muslim state in the Kurdish-dominated south-east.

Once again, how the Turkish authorities deal with this case will reveal much about the country's commiment to religious freedom. It is just over a year since Father Andrea Santoro was murdered while praying in his church in Trabzon, also in the east of the country, and exactly three months since the journalist and former chairman in the Armenian Evangelical Church, Hrant Dink, was assassinated in Istanbul.

2 comments:

Brit Abroad said...

According to investigators, the three believers were "satanically tortured." Video filmed by the Muslim extremists shows the unimaginable horror of their brutal massacre, an account of which is included in letter from The Protestant Church of Smyrna, but it's a gruesome read. Incredibly the German's widow has not only forgiven the murderers but says she has no thoughts of revenge, intends to remain in the city, and is hopeful of a new beginning for relations between Christians and Muslims in Turkey. Reminds me of Elisabeth Elliot.

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