Apr. 19, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Ten young men have been arrested for the brutal murder of 3 employees at a Christian publishing house in Turkey. But members of the country's tiny Christian minority remain appalled by media propaganda against the Church.
Halil Ibrahim Dasoz, the mayor of Malatya, announced that 10 suspects have been arrested in connection with the killing of three people at the Zirve publishing house, a Presbyterian firm in the city. The three victims-- a German missionary, Tilnman Geske, and two Turkish converts from Islam, Necati Aydin and Uur Yuksel-- were bound and killed in an April 18 attack.
Several of the suspected arrested by Turkish police have reportedly confessed to killing the three Christians, slitting their throats "to save religion" and as "a lesson for the enemies of Islam." The killers were found carrying a following letter that read in part: “We are brothers. We are going to death. We may not return again…Forgive our debts.”
The young men involved in the killing were obviously motivated by Islamic zeal. There is some speculation that the assault on the Christian publishing house was organized by the Turkish arm of the Hezbollah terrorist organization. According to the director of the publishing house, Hamza Ozant, Zirve has recently been the object of threats. The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports that the publishing house was threatened for publishing the Bible and for proselytism.
Christians living in Turkey report that they have been subject to threats and abuse, reflecting a campaign of propaganda depicting all Christians as threats to the country's Islamic majority. A Protestant minister, speaking to the AsiaNews service on condition of anonymity, said with regret that "no one one is courageous enough to really take a stand, to condemn not only this religious hatred, but also the mass media which with great subtly and cunning continues to brainwash people with propaganda which incites them to believe that we are evil, that we want to wipe them out, to take away their faith and turn them from their beliefs in the God of Mohammad."
The anti-Christian propaganda extends to Turkish government officials, and apparently influenced the public response to the killings in Malatya. AsiaNews reports that the mayor first attributed the killings to "internal clashes" among the Christian employees at Zirve, stressing that it was "not an attack." Local media reports suggested that the killings were prompted by the victims themselves, who enraged neighbors by engaging in proselytism.
Writing in Hurriyet about the latest killings, Ertugrul Ozkok said that "while there is only one handful of actual murderers involved, there are many, many assistants." He was alluding to the media campaign depicting Christians as enemies of the Turkish people.
The city of Malatya, in southeastern Turkey, is the birthplace of the would-be assassin of Pope John Paul II, Mehmet Ali Agca.