Arrests over Turkey Bible publisher murders

This week CathNews presents the top stories from 2007. This article was originally published on 20 April 2007

Turkish police have arrested ten young men as suspects in the throat slitting murders of three people at a Protestant Bible publishing house.

Agence France-Presse reports that the murders raised fears and concerns over religious freedom among Turkey's tiny Christian community in the mainly Muslim country which is also seeking to join the European Union.

The victims, one of them a German, were found tied to chairs with their throats slit at the Zirve (Summit) publishing house, which is owned by Turkey's Protestant community.

Five suspects, including a man who jumped out of a third floor window to escape capture, were detained at the scene of the crime.

Announcing the arrest of the other five, Malatya Governor Halil Ibrahim Dasoz gave no details, but said they were all of the same age group - young men aged 19 and 20.

Turkish newspapers said all the suspects apprehended at the scene were carrying copies of a letter that read: "We did it for our country. They are trying to take our country away, take our religion away."

They lived together at a local dormitory run by a religious foundation, media reports said.

Police have yet to make a statement on the motives for the murders, but the press agreed today that nationalist and religious zeal were the likely cause.

"We did not do this for ourselves, but for our religion... Let this be a lesson to the enemies of our religion," one of the suspects allegedly said in his testimony, the mass-circulation daily Hurriyet reported.

Several newspapers linked the attack to others against Christian minorities in Turkey, including the killings of Catholic priest Andrea Santoro last year and ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in January.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul described the murders as "an attack against Turkey's stability, peace and tradition of tolerance".

Speaking to reporters in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, European Parliament member Joost Lagendijk said the killings would send Europe a negative message.

"Europe will perceive the killings to mean that those who attempt to seek converts to other faiths in Turkey will face a similar fate," Mr Lagendijk said.

The dead were identified named as 46-year-old German Tilman Geske and Turkish nationals Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel.

Police detain 10 over Turkish murders (News.com.au 19/4/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Andrea Santoro (Wikipedia)

Four killed in Turkey bible publisher attack (CathNews 19/4/07)

8 Jan 2008