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Attacks on Christians Intensify in Turkey

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  • Attacks on Christians Intensify in Turkey

    Attacks on Christians Intensify in Turkey

    Christian Post, CA
    July 20 2005

    Francis Helguero

    In what could be growing into a trend, over the past six months,
    vigilante groups have threatened Protestant church worshippers and
    have attacked their places of worship.

    Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2005 Posted: 5:02:13PM EST

    In what could be growing into a trend in Turkey, individuals
    belonging to vigilante groups in the last six months have threatened
    Protestants and have attacked their places of worship.

    The media has also been increasingly critical of missionary activity,
    according to a recent report by Compass News. Also, some government
    ministers have accused missionaries of being politically motivated to
    "damaging the social peace and unity" of the nation.

    In a government-approved sermon at Friday prayers in Islamic mosques
    in March, the government warned that Christian missionaries were
    "pursuing political agendas" to "deceive and convert" people.

    The report cited several other attacks, including "sound bombs"
    equivalent to 150 firecrackers placed in front of doors of a
    Gaziantep church in April, and acts of vandalism at a protestant
    congregation in the Black Sea city of Samsun where numberous eggs
    were thrown at the building.

    In April a firebomb caused $10,000 in damage to the International
    Protestant Church in the capital of Ankara.

    After the attack, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued a warning noting
    an "up tick in threats and vandalism ... occurring during a period of
    increased focus by the Turkish media and government on "missionary
    activity in Turkey."

    None of the cases ended with death, but a near miss was cited when
    three young men bound an American named Wilbur Miller and his family,
    threatening to kill them, before the family was spared and told to
    leave the country immediately. It was not clear if investigations by
    local police and the U.S. Embassy resulted charges or conctions, the
    report states.

    Christians are in a position where they fear to report the attacks,
    according to Compass.

    Pastor Ihsan Ozbek, chair of the Alliance of Protestant Churches in
    Turkey told Compass that it was necessary to bring those issues to
    the attention of officials, so that those who threaten could be

    In Turkey, the Protestant community is tiny, estimated to be about
    3,500 Christians, in 55 locations of worship and 40 known house
    fellowships, according to Compass. Non Muslims in Turkey represent
    just 0.2 percent of a total population of about 70 million. Other
    Christian groups include members of the Greek and Armenian churches.
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