Bishop Notes Rising Christian Fear
MALATYA, Turkey, APRIL 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- A Catholic bishop has expressed his dismay that four Protestants were slain on Wednesday while at work at a Christian publishing house that distributes Bibles.
According to AsiaNews, three of the four victims, including the Zirve publishing house's owner, had their throats cut when assailants entered. The fourth died trying to escape.
Bishop Luigi Padovese, vicar apostolic of Anatolia, said today on Vatican Radio: "We are truly sad, because we see that there is a series of these kinds of acts which provoke a sentiment of uncertainty and perplexity regarding our presence here in Turkey.
"We don't want to leave, but these happenings make us understand that within this country, which is fundamentally healthy, there are mad people who don't accept our presence."
The bishop explained that he has a police escort at all times. And his parish is guarded day and night.
"These are symptoms that make it possible to perceive a certain fear on the part of the police -- fear that something will happen," the 60-year-old bishop said.
The general manger of the publishing house, Hamza Ozant, was on his way to work when the slaying happened. He said that the company had been receiving threats for a year, which had led it to request police protection.
According to AsiaNews, many people in Turkey resent the publication of the Bible in their native tongue.
Bishop Padovese also spoke of the 2006 assassination of Father Andrea Santoro. "The Turkish population is fundamentally healthy," he said. "Unfortunately, these acts are carried out by certain Islamic and nationalistic fanatics.
"They raise their voices, above all, in key moments -- we are drawing near presidential elections. … These are acts that aim to destabilize."
Friday's Italian issue of L'Osservatore Romano explained that proselytism is not illegal in Turkey, as it is in some Islamic states. Nevertheless, the semiofficial Vatican newspaper reported: "[W]itnessing to a faith other than Muslim continues to be dangerous."
"In Turkey, not just Islamic fundamentalists are active and organize homicidal attacks," the newspaper added, "but even the press and other institutions accuse those who proselytize as 'enemies of Turkey.'"