Robert Jones | Gatestone Institute
- Turkey’s countless agreements with Western organizations do not seem to have reduced the hatred for Christians there.
- In Turkey, it is “ordinary people” who murder or attack Christians, then the judiciary or political system somehow find a way of enabling the perpetrators to get away with the crimes. Most of these crimes are not covered by the international media and Turkey is never held responsible.
- While Muslims are pretty much free to practice their religion and express their views on other religions anywhere in the world, Christians and other non-Muslims can be killed in Turkey and other Muslim-majority countries just for attempting peacefully to practice their religion or openly express their views.
- “Multiculturalism,” which is passionately defended by many liberals in the West, could have worked wonders in multi-ethnic and multi-religious places such as Anatolia. But unfortunately, Islamic ideology allows only one culture, one religion, and one way of thinking under their rule: Islam. Ironically, this is the central fact these liberals do not want to see.
On 26 July, the northern French town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray witnessed a horrific Islamist attack: Two Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists killed an 85-year-old priest, Jacques Hamel, in his church during Mass. Two nuns and two churchgoers were taken hostage.
The terrorists, who had pledged allegiance to ISIS and, shouting “Allahu Akbar”, slit the throat of the priest and captured the bloody episode on video, according to a nun who escaped the assault.
Such Islamist attacks might be new to EU member countries but not to Turkey. For decades, so many innocent, defenseless Christians in Turkey have been slaughtered by Muslim assailants.
Christians in Turkey are still attacked, murdered or threatened daily; the assailants usually get away with their crimes.
In Malatya, in 2007, during the Zirve Bible Publishing House massacre, three Christian employees were attacked, severely tortured, then had their hands and feet tied and their throats cut by five Muslims on April 18, 2007.
Nine years have passed, but there still has been no justice for the families of the three men who were murdered so savagely.
First, the five suspects who were still in detention were released from their high-security prison by a Turkish court, which ruled that their detention exceeded newly-adopted legal limits.
The trial is still ongoing. The prosecutor claims that the act “was not a terrorist act because the perpetrators did not have a hierarchic bond, their act was not continuous and the knives they used in the massacre did not technically suffice to make the act be regarded as a terrorist act.”
If the court accepts this legal opinion of the prosecutor, it could pave the way for an acquittal. However, given the many “mysterious” rulings of the Turkish judiciary system to acquit criminals, these killers could also be acquitted by a “surprise” ruling any time.
Ironically, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in March that it is necessary to redefine terrorism to include those who support such acts, adding that they could be journalists, lawmakers or activists. There was no difference, he said, between “a terrorist holding a gun or a bomb and those who use their position and pen to serve the aims” of terrorists.
In a country where state authorities are outspokenly so “sensitive” about “terrorism” and “people holding guns,” why are the murderers of Christians not in jail, and why is the prosecutor trying to portray the murders of Christians as “non-terroristic acts”?
Sadly, the three Christians in Malatya were neither the first nor the last Christians to be murdered in Turkey.
On February 5, 2006, Father Andrea Santoro, a 61-year-old Roman Catholic priest, was murdered in the Santa Maria Church in the province of Trabzon. He was shot while kneeling in prayer at his church. Witnesses heard the 16-year-old murderer shout “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is the Greatest”) during the murder.
After the murder, a 74-year-old priest, Father Pierre François René Brunissen, from Samsun, led the next church service in Santoro’s church, which boasted barely a dozen members. Because no one volunteered to replace Santoro, Father Pierre was instructed to travel from Samsun to Trabzon each month to care for the city’s small congregation.
“This is a terrible incident,” Father Pierre said. “It is a sin to kill a person. After all of these incidents, I am worried about my life here.”
The attacks against the Christian culture in Anatolia continue in modern times — even after Turkey joined the Council of Europe in 1949 and NATO in 1952.
Turkey’s countless agreements with Western organizations do not seem to have reduced the hatred for Christians there. In March, 2007, as the Christian community of Mersin was preparing for the Easter, a young Muslim man with a kebab knife entered the church and attacked the priests, Roberto Ferrari and Henry Leylek.
Mersin, in southern Turkey, is home to Tarsus, the birthplace of Saint Paul, and to several churches dating from the earliest Christian era.
As the Christian roots of Anatolia weakened, so did its bonds with Western civilization. “The attack against the priest is an indicator that Ankara is not ready for Europe,” a Roman Catholic Cardinal and theologian, Walter Kasper, told the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera. “There is some amount of tolerance but there is not real freedom. Turkey has to change many things. This change is not about laws. A change of mentality is needed. But you cannot change mentality in one day.”
Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, said: “We do not feel safe. I am very worried. Fanaticism is developing in some groups. Some people want to poison the atmosphere and catholic priests are targeted. Anti-missionary films are broadcast on TV channels.”
At a commemorative ceremony for Father Santoro in February, Bishop Padovese said:
“Today, we are asking the question we asked four years ago: Why? We are also asking the same question for all other victims so unjustly murdered even though they were innocent. Why? What was it that they tried to destroy by murdering Father Andrea? Just a person or what that person represented? The aim of shooting Father Andrea was definitely to shoot a Catholic cleric. His being a Father became the reason of his martyrdom.
“The message of Christ on the cross is clear. ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ Had they known, they would not have done that. It is wrong to extinguish a life to uphold an idea. It is wrong to think that a person who disagrees with us is at fault and should be destroyed. This is the fundamentalism that crumbles a society. For it wrecks coexistence. This fundamentalism — regardless of what religion or political view it belongs to — might win a few battles but it is doomed to lose the war. This is what history teaches us. I hope that this city and this country will turn into a place where people can live as brothers and sisters and unite for the common good for all. Is the Allah of all of us not the same?”
No, unfortunately, the Allah of all of us is not the same.
Just four months later, in June, 2010, it was Padovese’s turn to be murdered. This time the murderer was the Bishop’s own driver for the previous four years. The driver first stabbed the bishop, then cut his throat, while shouting “Allahu Akbar” during the attack.
At the trial, the driver said that the bishop was “Masih ad-Dajjal” (“the false messiah”), then twice in the courtroom he loudly recited the adhan (Islamic call to worship).
In the territory where Christians once thrived, even converting to Christianity now creates serious problems.
“New Christians coming from Muslim families are often isolated and ostracized,” writes Carnes. “Turgay Ucal, a pastor of an independent church in Istanbul, who converted from Islam to Christianity said: “Buddhism is okay, but not Christianity. There was a history.”
And this history includes how indigenous Christians in Anatolia have been slaughtered by Muslims. 
The total population of Turkey is about 80 million; believers of non-Muslim faiths — mostly Christians and Jews — comprise 0.2%. Nevertheless, anti-Christian sentiment is still prevalent in much of the Turkish society. 
There seems to be a pattern: Murders of Christians are committed stealthily in Turkey: It is “ordinary people” who murder or attack Christians, then the judiciary or political system somehow finds a way of enabling the murderers or attackers to get away with what they have done. Sadly, most of these crimes are not covered by the international media, and Turkey is never held responsible.
Turkey, however, signed a Customs Union agreement with the European Union in 1995 and was officially recognized as a candidate for full membership in 1999. Negotiations for the accession of Turkey to the EU are still ongoing.
How come a nation that has murdered or attacked so many Christians throughout history, and which has not even apologized for these crimes, is considered even a suitable candidate for EU membership? Because of the threat of blackmail to flood Europe with Muslims? Turkey will flood Europe with them anyway. There is even a name for it: Hijrah, spreading Islam (jihad) by emigration. Exactly as Muslims have done inside Turkey.
And what kind of a culture and civilization have many Muslims built for the most part in the lands that they have conquered? When one observes the historical and current situation in Muslim-majority countries, what one mostly sees are murders, attacks and hatred: Hatred of non-Muslims, hatred of women, hatred of free thought and an extremely deep hatred of everything that is not Islamic. Many Muslims that have moved to the West have been trying to import political Islam to the free world, as well.
Muslim regimes including Turkey have not achieved civilized democratization that would enable all of their citizens — Muslims and non-Muslims — to live free and safe lives.
While Muslims are pretty much free to practice their religion and express their views on other religions or on atheism anywhere in the world, Christians and other non-Muslims can be killed in Turkey and other Muslim-majority countries just for attempting peacefully to practice their religion or openly express their views.
“Multiculturalism,” which is passionately defended by many liberals in the West, could have worked wonders in multi-ethnic and multi-religious places such as Anatolia. But unfortunately, Islamic ideology allows only one culture, one religion, and one way of thinking under their rule: Islam. Ironically, this is the central fact these liberals do not want to see.
Much of the history of Islam shows that the nature of Islamic ideology is to invade or infiltrate, and then to dominate non-Muslims.
In general, Muslims have never shown the slightest interest in peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims. Even if most Muslims are not jihadis, most do not speak out against jihadist attacks. Many thus appear quietly to support jihadis. That there are also peaceful Muslim individuals who respect other faiths does not change this tragic fact.
That is why non-Muslims in the West have every right to fear one day being exposed to the same treatment at the hands of Muslims. The fear non-Muslims have of Islamic attacks is, based on recent evidence, both rational and justified.
Given how unspeakably non-Muslims are treated in majority Muslim countries, including Turkey, who can blame them for being concerned about the possible Islamization of their own free societies?
Why does Turkey, which seems to hate its own Christians, want to have visa-free access to Christian Europe, anyway?
Robert Jones, an expert on Turkey, is currently based in the UK.
 Christianity has a long history in Samsun – as in all other Anatolian towns. As Amisos, in Greek, it was one of the centers of the ancient Greek Pontos region, and helped spread the Christian influence in the region.
“After 1914 the Greek and Armenian populations were to dwindle considerably due to the organized death marches and other methods used by the Turks during the Greek and Armenian Genocides,” according to “Pontos World.”
Decades later, attacks against Christians are still commonplace. In December 2007, another Catholic priest, Adriano Franchini, 65, of Izmir was also stabbed and wounded during the Sunday church service by a 19-year-old Muslim.
Izmir, or Smyrna, was an ecclesiastical territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and one of the Seven Churches of Asia mentioned by Apostle John in the Book of Revelation.
During the Ottoman era, Smyrna hosted one of the largest populations of Greeks and Armenians. Today, there is only a tiny Christian minority in the city. The devastation of the Greek culture in the city peaked during what is commonly known as the “Catastrophe of Smyrna.” The Turkish army destroyed the city in 1922, after the Great Fire of Smyrna. Turkish soldiers murdered many non-Muslim civilians, including dozens of priests and bishops, and forced countless Greek men to join labor battalions. Most Greeks fled their homes in the city to seek shelter in Greece and other states.
“The Great Fire of Smyrna,” wrote the author Ioanna Zikakou, “was the peak of the Asia Minor Catastrophe, bringing an end to the 3,000-year Greek presence on Anatolia’s Aegean shore and shifting the population ratio between Muslims and non-Muslims.”
According to the journalist Tony Carnes:
“Few nations have as rich a Christian history as Turkey. This is where Paul founded some of the earliest churches, including the church at Ephesus. Seven churches in this region were addressed in the Book of Revelation. Those in the early monastic movement found the caves of Cappadocia a near-perfect place to live out lives of prayer.
“But Christianity came under Islamic rule in Turkey in 1453 and steadily declined for centuries; the last 100 years have been the worst. In 1900, the Christian population was 22 percent. Now most experts estimate that there are fewer than 200,000 Christians nationwide, comprising less than 0.3 percent of the population.”
Today, in Islamized Anatolia, the members of the diminutive Christian minority are daily exposed to verbal or physical attacks. Kamil Kiroglu was born and raised in Turkey as a Muslim. At the age of 24, he became a Christian and served in the Turkish Church until 2009. After he became Christian, he was rejected by his family.
On January 8, 2006, Kiroglu was beaten unconscious by five young Muslim men.
“The attack followed church services,” writes the scholar John L. Allen Jr. in his book, The Global War on Christians. “Kiroglu later reported that one of the young men, wielding a knife, had shouted, ‘Deny Jesus or I will kill you now!’ Another reportedly shouted, ‘We do not want Christians in this country!’ As the attackers left, they told a friend of Kiroglu’s that they had left a gift for him. It turned out to be a three-foot-long curved knife, left behind as a further warning against Christian activity.”
“Turkey may be an officially secular state, but sociologically it’s an Islamic society. In general, the greatest threat facing Christians comes not from religiously zealous forms of Islam but from ultranationalists who see Christians as agents of the West, often accusing them of being in league with Kurdish separatists.”
In 2009, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the Orthodox Christian Church’s Patriarch, said in an interview with CBS that Turkey’s Christians were second-class citizens and that he felt “crucified” at the hands of Turkish state authorities.
“Within a few months, 1.5 million Armenians had been wiped out from their historic homeland of 4,000 years in what is now eastern Turkey, as well as from the northern, southern, central, and western parts of Turkey. About 250,000 Assyrians were also massacred in southeastern Turkey during the same period. Then, it was the Pontic Greeks’ turn to be eliminated from northern Turkey on the Black Sea coast, sporadically from 1916 onward.”
Orhan Picaklar, the pastor of the Samsun Agape Church, was kidnapped and threatened by Muslim locals in 2007. He said that people also tried to kidnap his 11-year-old son from his school. His church has been stoned countless times. Ahmet Guvener, the pastor of the Diyarbakir Protestant Church, said he received so many threats that he was awaiting death: “I will give a letter of attorney to a friend of mine. If I die, I want him to take care of my children.”