Assailant influenced by TV series defaming Christian missionaries.

ISTANBUL, January 12 (Compass Direct News) – A judge in Turkey sentenced a 19-year-old Muslim to four-and-a-half years in prison on Jan. 5 for stabbing a Catholic priest in the coastal city of Izmir in December 2007.

Ramazan Bay, then 17, had met with Father Adriano Franchini, a 65-year-old Italian and long-term resident of Turkey, after expressing an interest in Christianity following mass at St. Anthony church. During their conversation, Bay became irritated and pulled out a knife, stabbing the priest in the stomach.

Fr. Franchini was hospitalized but released the next day as his wounds were not critical.

Bay, originally from Balikesir 90 miles north of Izmir, reportedly said he was influenced by an episode of the TV serial drama “Kurtlar Vadisi” (“Valley of the Wolves”). The series caricatures Christian missionaries as political “infiltrators” who pay poor families to convert to Christianity.

“Valley of the Wolves” also played a role in a foiled attack on another Christian leader in December 2007. Murat Tabuk reportedly admitted under police interrogation that the popular ultra-nationalist show had inspired him to plan the murder of Antalya pastor Ramazan Arkan. The plan was thwarted, with the pastor receiving armed police protection and Antalya’s anti-terrorism police bureau ordering plainclothes guards to accompany him.

Together with 20 other Protestant church leaders, Arkan on Dec. 3, 2007 filed a formal complaint with the Istanbul State Prosecutor’s office protesting “Valley of the Wolves” for “presenting them as a terrorist group and broadcasting scenes making them an open target.”

The series has portrayed Christians as selling body parts, being involved in mafia activities and prostitution and working as enemies of society in order to spread the Christian faith.

“The result has been innumerable, direct threats, attacks against places of worship and eventually, the live slaughter of three innocent Christians in Malatya,” the complaint stated.

The Protestant leaders demanded that Show TV and the producers of “Valley of the Wolves” be prosecuted under sections 115, 214, 215, 216 and 288 of the Turkish penal code for spreading false information and inciting violence against Christians.

The past three years saw six separate attacks on priests working across the country, the most serious of which resulted in the death of Father Andreas Santoro in Trabzon. As with Fr. Franchini, many of the attacks were coupled with accusations of subversion and “proselytizing.”

Although a secular republic, Turkey has a strong nationalistic identity of which Islam is an integral part.

Television shows such as “Valley of the Wolves” may not be the norm, but the recent publication of a state high school textbook in which “missionary activity” is also characterized as destructive and dangerous has raised questions about Turkey’s commitment to addressing prejudice and discrimination.

“While there is a general attitude [of antipathy], I think that the state feeds into it and propagates it,” said a spokesperson for the Alliance of Protestant Churches of Turkey (TEK). “If the State took a more accepting and more tolerant attitude I think the general attitude would change too.”

At the end of 2007 TEK issued a summery of the human rights violations that their members had suffered that year. As part of a concluding appeal they urged the state to stop an “indoctrination campaign” aimed at vilifying the Christian community.

TEK will soon release its rights violations summery for 2008, and it is likely that a similar plea will be made.

“There is police protection, and they have caught some people,” the TEK spokesperson said. “There is an active part of the state trying to prevent things, but the way it is done very much depends on the situation and how at that moment the government is feeling as far as putting across a diplomatic and political statement. There is hypocrisy in it.”

A survey carried out in 2005 by the Pew Global Attitudes Project also suggested a distinctly negative attitude towards Christians among Turks, with 63 percent describing their view of Christians as “unfavorable,” the highest rate among countries surveyed.

Niyazi Oktem, professor of law at Bilgi University and president of a prominent inter-faith organization in Turkey called the Intercultural Dialogue Platform, said that while the government could do more to secure religious freedom, he would not characterize Turkish sentiment towards Christians as negative.

“I can say that general Turkish feeling towards the Christian religion is not hostile,” said Oktem. “There could be, of course, some exceptions, but this is also the case in Christian countries towards Islam.”

Report from Compass Direct News

Follow the Christ Convention – JWs

It has been so long since I have been ambushed at my front door by the Jehovah’s Witnesses – in fact, they haven’t been at my place in the entire time I have lived here. I did get them when I lived a couple of suburbs away and then quite regularly. However, this didn’t continue when it became apparent to them that I was a ‘recalcitrant Reformed Baptist.’ They of course tried many tricks to get me to listen to them then, including trying to get a glass of water for the little girl with them – I can only imagine how much water this poor little girl got throughout the round of door knocking that day.

So today they have arrived and departed in quick time – it being really cold out today and blowing quite strongly as well. Anyhow, it was long enough for a leaflet to be pressed into my hand before I knew what had happened ~ and then she was gone.

Anyhow, it was an invite to attend the ‘Follow the Christ!’ Convention in Sydney from the 3-5 August 2007. It promises to have a ‘sound drama’ based on Mark chapters 4 and 5, whatever that is, as well as a ‘full-costume Bible drama’ based on Colossians 3:12 (it would be interesting to see what they would do with that).  There will also be a ‘six-part, fast moving symposium’ on the Sermon on the Mount, whatever that means.

I did of course screw the thing up before thinking I could have a look at it and make a Blog entry about it – I am quite content to have as little to do with the Jehovah’s Witnesses movement as possible. Should I have more of an open mind? No, I don’t think so at all – if I had that, it would surely indicate that I wasn’t convinced about my current position (which I am). I have no need to entertain cultic groups and their teaching, not even for a moment.

Some may think that that approach is somewhat arrogant; however, when you are convinced of what God is teaching through His Word, it is both somewhat foolish and arrogant to go against what He has set down. Indeed it would be arrogant rebellion against Him to adopt that or to entertain that which the Lord God has not taught. What He has made plain it is my duty to cling to and hold dear.

This narrow-minded approach is surely the way of the Christian, for there are not many ways but only one way, according to the God of the Bible. It is because of this that we do not pursue a myriad of varying (and oftentimes contradicting) approaches to religion, for the true religion of the Bible knows but one way – God’s. There is no other.