The anniversary of the torture and slaying of three men at a Turkish Christian publishing house – for which no one has ever been convicted – has raised questions about the future for Christianity within Turkey.
At the same time, a report from a prestigious US think tank has stated that “one of the common features of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey seems to be their intolerance of churches.”
In April 2007 three Christian men – two of them Turks and the third a German national – were tied to chairs then stabbed repeatedly at the Zirve publishing house in Malatya, a city in the south-east of the country. The assailants then slit the men’s throats.
Despite a flurry of investigative activity and even some arrests, no one has ever been convicted of the murders. Those arrested were later released.
It has now led several Turkish newspapers to question the country’s justice system. The Radikal newspaper interviewed a friend of the murdered men who said: “I can’t say what is not true. We have seen once again that there is no justice for Christians in Turkey.”
The Zaman newspaper interviewed Suzanne Geske, wife of the slain German national, who said she and her children had forgiven the murderers. But the newspaper also wrote: “Geske added that even though the motto ‘Justice is the foundation of the state’ is written on the walls of all courts in Turkey, the Zirve case has proved otherwise.”
Writing for Turkey’s Cihan News Agency, Charlotte McPherson said simply: “A huge disappointment on behalf of justice has occurred again.”
Meanwhile, in a brief report from America’s Gatestone Institute titled “Churches in Turkey on the Verge of Extinction,” a Turkish journalist noted that only about 120,000 Christians remained in the country, and that they do not enjoy the same rights as the Muslim majority.
He concluded: “Sadly, Turkey, a NATO member since 1952 and reportedly a candidate for membership in the European Union, has largely succeeded in destroying the entire Christian cultural heritage of Asia Minor.
“All this is reminiscent of what ISIS and other jihadist armies have been doing in the Middle East. In Turkey, the remaining Christian population, the grandchildren of genocide survivors, are still exposed to discrimination. The old habits of Ottoman Turks do not seem to die.”