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Murder Suspects Accuse Each Other in Trial in Turkey – Compass Direct News

On June 9, seven suspects on trial for the brutal murder of three Christians in Turkey appeared in court – each one protesting his innocence and incriminating one or more of the others. According to Compass Direct News, "The hearing in eastern Turkey marked the first time the five jailed murderers and two accused accomplices have appeared together in court to be cross-examined over contradictions in their individual court testimonies." Compass Direct added, "In addition to the five accused murderers – Hamit Ceker, Cuma Ozdemir, Abuzer Yildirim, Salih Gurler and Emre Gunaydin – two others, Kursat Kocadag and Mehmet Gokce, face charges as accomplices." Turkish Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and German Christian Tilmann Geske were brutally killed on April 18, 2007, at Zirve Publishing offices in Malatya. Keep the families of those killed in your prayers as the trial continues. Ask God to make the truth known to authorities as they prosecute this trial. Also pray for protection for the families of those killed and for believers in Turkey who serve Christ in the midst of persecution. Psalm 91  [report anonymous abuse]  [ accepted]
anonymous  July 16, 2008 10:31 PM

Accidental Outreach
Christian leaders avoid targeting Kurds, but reach them anyway.

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Turkey's largest minority group, the Kurds, represent nearly 11 million people. But missions and church leaders in the country think it unwise to explicitly tailor evangelistic efforts to attract them.

One ethnic Turkish pastor said, "We don't specifically try to reach Armenian or Syrian language groups." Even in the heart of Kurdish regions, pastors are cautious about using "Kurdish evangelism."

Other leaders agree. Jerry Mattix, a Bible teacher in the region, says, "We don't make any deliberate effort to reach Kurdish-background Turks." The American teacher says Westerners who come to Turkey to target Kurds as a "people group" provoke strong police reactions, making ministry more difficult in the long run.

Since 1978, the socialist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has engaged in violent attacks, hoping to establish an independent nation-state for the 30 million or more Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Throughout 2007, violence persisted along Turkey's southern border.

Mattix believes Christian outreach in areas where Kurds live will naturally attract Kurds. "We get 30 visitors a day at our church. Many of them are curious and want to talk," he told CT.

In southeastern Turkey, where many Kurds live, several Kurdish-majority churches and fellowships have experienced rapid growth. For example, the Diyarbakir Evangelical Church, at which Mattix works with pastor Ahmet Guvener, has grown from 20 to 60 members in five years, with about 70 percent of its new members being Kurdish-background Turks.

The Diyarbakir church is widely known for its innovative outreach, selling books in public markets and running a tea parlor out of its building. There are also small, growing fellowships in the nearby Kurdish cities of Van and Ufaz.

There is little contact between the Kurdish churches of Turkey and Iraq; political tensions make that nearly impossible. But migrant Turks who travel to northern Iraq for work will attend churches there and bring back the occasional news.

Tolerant Belief System

Christian leaders told CT that Kurdish-background Turks are remarkably open to Christianity. "In general, Turkish Kurds are not so inoculated against the West, and think out of the box," Mattix said.

Roger Malstead, an Istanbul publisher long associated with Operation Mobilization, says their openness stems from Alevis, the form of Islam that many Kurdish families practice. It incorporates elements of Shia and Sufi Islam. Followers of Alevis do not worship in mosques but in assembly houses. About 20 percent of Turkish Kurds adopt Alevis teachings. Historically, some Muslim leaders have attempted to suppress Alevis because they consider it to be a heterodox sect.

As a group, the Alevis are tolerant of non-Islamic faiths. Still, a Kurdish Turk who becomes a Christian faces huge problems among his fellow Kurds. It is painful and can be very disruptive to the families involved.

"When a Turkish Kurd becomes a Christian, it ruins his whole life," Mattix says. "The family cuts the Christian off, and he loses opportunities for marriage and jobs through the family network."

"As we create a larger church, we are creating a church family and this softens the blow," Mattix says. Pastor Kaan Koryurek of Besiktas Protestant Church in Istanbul says more resources are needed. "The church should be ready to help them, but we don't do it like we should. It is a big problem. We need to provide a home for people."

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anonymous  February 18, 2009 6:01 PM

Two More Arrested in Malatya, Turkey Murders*

A Turkish court has charged two more men for instigating the murder of three Christians in Malatya in 2007 Huseyin Yelki, a former employee of the Christian publishing house where the Christians were killed, and Varol Bulent Aral an ex-journalist suspected of ties to a group that tried to engineer a political coup.
While the plaintiff’s attorneys said they don’t believe Aral and Yelki are the masterminds themselves, they hope these two men could act as links for the investigation to go higher up the chain of command. “In my opinion, Yelki and Aral are just middle guys between the real instigators and the ‘hit-men,’” said Cengiz, representing the plaintiff lawyers. “Their inclusion into the court file has sparked hope for the first time since the case started. I hope we will be able to reach the higher links and deliver justice to them.” Read the full story >>

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anonymous  May 02, 2009 6:23 PM

TURKEY - LOCAL OFFICIALS’ ROLE EMERGES IN MALATYA MURDERS: Two years after the murder of three Christians in this city in southeastern Turkey, lawyers at a hearing on April 13th uncovered important information on the role that local security forces played in the slaughter. Full Story>>


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 August 31, 2009 5:08 AM

TURKEY- MURDER DEFENDANT AGAIN ADMITS PERJURY: Turkish murder suspect Emre Gunaydin admitted in court last week that he had again committed perjury in the trial over the savage murders of three Christians in southeast Turkey.  Full Story>>
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 April 24, 2012 4:07 AM

Turkey’s Religious Freedom Record Slides: Sentiment against Christians in Turkey has persisted so long that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended it as a “Country of Particular Concern”.  Pastor Orhan Picaklar knows such anti-Christian hostility first-hand.  Pastor Picaklar, of Agape Church in Samsun, lives in the Black Sea region, a bastion of Turkey’s Islamic-imbued nationalism, where Christians live under increasing pressure. He has seen his building attacked and his family and congregation threatened. Though Picaklar’s congregation has never pressed charges for previous hate crimes, last month they decided to formally complain. Read more>>

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