Christian converts on trial in Turkey

Associated Press November 23, 2006

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Two men who converted to Christianity went on trial Thursday for allegedly insulting “Turkishness” and inciting religious hatred against Islam, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The trial opened just days before a visit to Turkey by Pope Benedict XVI. During his visit, the pontiff is expected to discuss improved religious rights for the country’s tiny Christian minority who complain of discrimination.

Hakan Tastan, 37, and Turan Topal, 46, are accused of making the insults and of inciting hate while allegedly trying to convert other Turks to Christianity. If convicted, the two Turkish men could face up to nine years in prison.



2 thoughts on “Christian converts on trial in Turkey

  1. It is worth remembering that the early Christian church not only survived, but grew despite the most evil cruelties and aggressive persecutions by Nero and other Roman Emperors. Orthodoxy and Catholicism survived the the systematic attempts to exterminate the Christian faith by the Stalinist Soviet Union and it’s puppet regimes. Even now, as this article reminds us, the Christian message continues to give hope to human beings surrounded by a sea of fanatical Islamic hatred.

    We need to delve into our faith and rediscover those strengths that enables have enabled Christians through the centuries to maintain their faith in the face of the fiercist opposition. Christianity offers the most radical message in the world and in history: you don’t have to give in to the hate, evil and cruelty of the world. There is an alternative to debasement and slavery to evil. We can chose an existence based on love, kindness and hope as children of a loving God.

    Yesterday, I read an article about an Iraqi Sunni man who watched several other Sunni captives being decapitated in an Iraqi Shiite mosque, under the approving gaze of the local Imam. This witness only survived because his family paid a $10,000 ransom. In Afghanistan you have the Taliban assasinating policemen and schoolteachers. In the Gaza strip you have little children being taught the virtues of strapping on explosives and killing themselves and other human beings.

    One thing that history teaches us is that evil ultimately consumes itself. One has to think that at some point there has to be a wave of revulsion by Muslim’s themselves about the horror show of hate cruelty and violence that their faith has become. At that point I hope there will be a kind and benevolent Christian alternative that sickened Muslims can turn to for spiritual relief.

  2. Well said, Dean. Evil does consume itself eventually, usually to be replaced by another evil. So we cannot stand idly by waiting for that to happen. What makes Christianity unique and radical is the fact of the Incarnation—Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man. He did not drop our nature or our body when He ascended. He is still fully God and fully man–glorified. His gift enables us to communion with Him at the very core of our being. It is that loving union with His Creation that ensures the longevity of the Church regardless of the violence perpetrated against her. The relatively benign neglect of the Church by western governments since the 19th century is quite unusual historically. I doubt that it will continue. To the extent that we also enter into that union, we will be able to resist temptation; withstand persecution; love our enemies, and triumph over death. We must, however, put our hope and our trust in Him, not in worldly counterfeits.

    Muslims (and anyone) hungry for God have always found a home in the Church. There is no reason to expect that to change.

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