Today's Zaman, Turkey
Jan 4 2008

Turkish Christians to hold international faith congress

A congress aimed at mending Turkey's shattered image in the eyes of
the Christian world after a number of attacks against priests and
missionaries will bring together the leaders of various congregations
of Christian churches from 120 countries around world, Ertan Çevik,
head of Turkey's Protestant-Baptist Churches Association announced on

Ertan Çevik
The congress, to be organized by Çevik's association, hopes to change
the world opinion about how Turkey treats its Christians following
recent attacks against non-Muslims. In January Hrant Dink, an ethnic
Armenian newspaper editor, was shot dead in Ýstanbul by a teenager
who said he had "insulted Turkishness." In April two Turks and a
German, all evangelists, were murdered in Malatya. Their killers
bound and tortured them before slitting their throats. In December an
Italian Catholic priest was stabbed by a teenager in Ýzmir. Another
Italian priest was shot dead in Trabzon in 2006. In December, the
editor-in-chief of a daily Greek newspaper was beaten severely by
unidentified attackers on the street, and only a week ago, an Antalya
priest was stabbed by a young man. Luckily, he survived the attack.
Although evidence shows that some of these attacks can be traced to
rogue elements in the police and the army, the international reaction
has been that these are mostly hate crimes caused by
ultra-nationalists with an Islamist leaning. Çevik noted that attacks
against Christians have found wide coverage in the European Press.

Çevik has also stated that the Ýzmir Police Department has taken
tremendous measures at the Buca Baptist Church following last month's
stabbing. He said the Turkish nation knew little about Christianity
and expressed his opinion that Theology Departments across the
country should do more research on Christianity.

"In the past few months, some extreme news stories in the media have
negatively affected the society. Some people who don't know what they
are doing stage various attacks. Although these acts do not represent
the majority of our society, they are attributed to the entire nation
by foreigners."

He said as Turkish Christians, they were committed to the solidarity
and indivisible unity of the country and to the principles and
revolutions of Atatürk, adding that they were ready to cooperate with
anyone who shares the same commitments.

He also said some TV series that portray Christians as betraying
Turks were wrong and creating bias, adding that although his church
had strongly condemned cartoons insulting Muslims by a Danish artist,
his church had been threatened.

Çevik also stated that they needed support from Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdoðan to expand faith tourism around the Ýzmir area, which
is home to an ancient church and some of the key events in Christian


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