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Christians in Turkey fear being next target

The Christian community in Turkey has expressed fears that it will be the next target of terrorist actions.

Yesterday the BBC was reporting British Foreign Office advice that further terror attacks could be "imminent", pointing to the particular vulnerability of sites symbolising western political, religious and economic values.

Nine people have been charged in connection with last week's double suicide bombings in Istanbul.

Turkish Episcopal Conference head Bishop Ruggero Franceschini told the Vatican Fides news agency that following the targeting of Jews in a recent terrorist strike, there is a fear that the apparently ongoing series of actions will become a war against non-Islamic religious communities.

In Turkey "Christian community is frightened. There is a great fear that terrorism will expand and hit other areas of the countries and other religious communities after the Jewish one. The fear remains that this can be transformed into a war against non Islamic religious communities, and that after Jews, Christians will be hit." Expressing this fear after the new attacks that hit Istanbul was Monsignor Ruggero Franceschini, head of the Turkish Episcopal Conference, in an interview with the Vatican press agency Fides.

Bishop Franceschini, a Capuchin who is Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, explained that within his 5000-strong Catholic constituency, there is much discouragement and incredulity.

He said nobody can believe that Turks were responsible for the attacks. There is strong disapproval and people say that small groups of terrorist want to aggrandise themselves, and they want to hurt all of Turkey.

Bishop Franceschini expressed the hope that the recent attacks do not remove the possibility of Turkey joining the European Union.

"We are working so that Turkey shows the human side of Islam, and only the dynamics of meeting and welcoming can make it emerge," he said. "We will work so that the Turkish people show a side of Islam that is peaceful and fraternal, not radical."

Istanbul attacks: Christians fear being next target (AGI 21/11/03)

In Turkey, the Franciscans Reach Out (Zenit 24/11/03)
Bishop Ruggero Franceschini, O.F.M. Cap. (
Vatican condemns terrorist bombing in Turkey (21/11/03)
Further Turkey attacks 'imminent' (BBC 25/11/03)

26 Nov 2003