Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Plight of Protestants in Turkey

It is hard to discern which stories are picked up from blogs by the media establishment, but Cranmer is delighted that The Times is today reporting on an issue he raised a few days ago on the plight of two Christians in Turkey.

Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal are converts from Islam, and now face up to nine years’ in prison after going on trial last week for ‘insulting Turkishness’. While the EU wants this article of Turkey’s penal code amended, all indications are that it is being increasingly applied to all discourse and conduct that may be deemed to be ‘un-Islamic’. The problem is acute for the nation’s Protestants, who number about 4000. The other Christian denominations – principally Greek Orthodox, Armenians and Syriac Christians – have a legally defined status and rights under law. The Protestants have no such recognition and therefore no protection.

Mr Tastan and Mr Topal were approached by three young Muslim males under the guise of wanting to know more about Christianity. Charges were filed soon afterwards, which included accusation that they referred to Islam as a ‘backward religion’. More alarmingly, they were also accused of trying to sell women and of possessing guns, which they vehemently deny. Mr Topal said: ‘I don’t mind going on trial for my religion. We expected to be accused and imprisoned for that - the Bible says so’. He notes that Saint Paul was stoned for preaching in Ephesus. He continued: ‘But some of those accusations are so revolting it’s upsetting - it just shows the mentality behind the case’.

Indeed – the mentality. Yet the Pope symbolically submitted himself to this ‘mentality’ when he entered Istanbul’s Blue Mosque yesterday. He not only prayed; he removed his shoes, purposely faced Mecca, and clasped his hands in the Muslim manner. He made a full apology for his remarks at Regensburg University, and thereby placed his brilliant discourse on the relationship between faith and reason at the feet of terrorism of Islamism. The Enlightenment is thereby eclipsed by a return to the Dark Ages. The Grand Mufti of Istanbul said the Pope’s prayer was ‘much more important action than any verbal apology’. Cranmer agrees. It was not so long ago that there were calls in London from representatives of this ‘religion of peace’ for a Papal beheading, yet now he has affirmed that their anger was understandable, and their murderous threats justified.

One must now be careful to re-write history and pattern the world order according to the religio-political agenda of the ascendant spiritual power. This is perhaps supremely illustrated in the Papal U-turn on Turkish accession to the European Union. While Cardinal Ratzinger once believed and very publicly proclaimed that Turkish accession would be a-historical, as Pope Benedict he has informed Prime Minister Erdogan that the halo of European Union lies within his grasp, and that he now supports Turkey's entry. The change has been enforced to pacify the beast of Islamism. The alternative would be more murders of nuns, more churches torched, and more Christians mutilated and persecuted. Cranmer’s regret is that His Holiness has signalled to the Muslim world that Christianity can and will make concessions to Islam, and that intimidation and violence work. This is a great pity, since the world now desperately needs Christian leaders who will not only debate these issues forcefully, but will defend Judeo-Christian notions of justice and liberty, and the principles of enlightenment reason. Tolerance and patience are only virtues in the context of truth, and it is time for the Church to state quite clearly to the Muslim world that there are things which we also find offensive.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent gesture by the pope.. as they say it takes a brave man to say what he feels but an even braver one to apologise when what he said had an adverse reaction.. but personally I do not want Turkey in the EU as I do not feel that they will make a good member state as they still have a lot of domestic issues they must deal with first..

2 December 2006 at 11:32  
Anonymous Voyager said...


It is time for Turkey to be flooded with appeals under Article 9 and cause them embarrassment in The Council of Europe. Aren't there any activist lawyers working to this end ?

I don't know what the point of the Pope going into a mosque is...........the only value they have is to Muslims, anyone who isn't a member cannot add much.

If Turkey joins the EU then Russia should - it is after all 'The Third Rome' in Moscow and there are more Christians in Russia than Turkey and much more oil and gas

So let's go the whole hog and invite Russia to join and move the EU Commission from Brussels to Budapest and the centre of gravity away from francophone Europe.

Better still let's give Turkey Britain's place as we slip out of the back door and leave the EU to its own devices

2 December 2006 at 11:43  
Anonymous bob said...

I don't know if one could say that Pope Benedict has given his support to Turkey's bid for EU membership. His spokesman, Fr Frederico Lombardi said: "The Holy See has neither the power nor the specific task of intervening on the precise point of Turkey's entry in the European Union. It is not its responsibility.

"However, it regards positively and encourages the path of dialogue and rapprochement to Europe in virtue of common values and principles," the priest added.

"In this connection," he added, "the Pope expressed his appreciation for the initiative of the Alliance of Civilizations promoted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan."

It's hardly what you would call a wholehearted affirmation.

Secondly, your interpretation of a symbolic gesture is surely governed, to some degree at least, by your own opinions and, dare I say, prejudices. So while you see a wholehearted apology and u-turn on the Pope's part, it was, perhaps, simply a gesture motivated by respect for the worship and practices of another faith. I think of greater significance was that the Pope did not apologise for his Regensburg address after he had been chided by Ali Bardakoglu, the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate.

It's also, I feel, worth noting that Pope Benedict reminded the Turkish government of their obligation to promote religious freedom:
"The fact that the majority of the population of this country is Muslim is a significant element in the life of society, which the State cannot fail to take into account, yet the Turkish Constitution recognizes every citizen’s right to freedom of worship and freedom of conscience. The civil authorities of every democratic country are duty bound to guarantee the effective freedom of all believers and to permit them to organize freely the life of their religious communities. Naturally it is my hope that believers, whichever religious community they belong to, will continue to benefit from these rights, since I am certain that religious liberty is a fundamental expression of human liberty and that the active presence of religions in society is a source of progress and enrichment for all."

2 December 2006 at 12:47  
Blogger istanbultory said...

It's hard to understate the difficulties confronting Christians in Turkey. Churches face immense legal difficulties in establishing themselves and raising finances. They are persistently subject to the whims and torments of devout Muslims within the state bureaucracy and often spied on by the Police. Protestant missionaries are consistently vilified as fifth columnists,saboteurs and CIA agents in much of the Turkish media. I am afraid that is the image most Turks believe...

Voyager, I agree. If Turkey joins the EU then Russia should too. And Ukraine as well. Therein lies the essence of the problem. If, and I still believe it is unlikely, Turkey were to ever enter the EU, the geographical meaning of "Europe" as it has traditionally been understood, will cease to exist. Membership applications from Georgia, Armenia, Tunisia, Israel inter alia would then be inevitable and technically difficult to reject. Europe's political "elite" fail to see the obvious implications of Turkish accession...

2 December 2006 at 18:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cranmer.. by the way I like the picture of the cost of your namesake's conviction..

2 December 2006 at 18:30  
Anonymous Colin said...

Yes, and EU dissenters would get a nice cup of tea with polonium.

2 December 2006 at 18:59  
Anonymous Oiznop said...

If Europe got its definition from the Eurovision song contest, there's no end to its borders! Why not include Turkey, Israel, Russia and all the rest? Is Europe geographical, cultural or religious???!

2 December 2006 at 20:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

culture and religion transcends man made borders I believe.. hence if anything, it should be geographical but again a map can always be drawn afresh.. to be philosophical, it is what you want to see it as for it includes all the above categories or atleast till islamist turkey joins the bandwagon, I suppose..

2 December 2006 at 23:50  
Anonymous Colin said...


With regard to the European song contest, did you also observe that many countries vote more along ethnic lines than according to taste.


"philosophical, it is what you want to see it"

That might be true for an individual. But as a matter of fact, for large groups cultural habits never changed quickly or simply by changing definitions.

3 December 2006 at 00:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say that you have hit the nail right on the head.. and I find myself having no adequate reply (not something which happens often, I can assure you). I fear that I have no choice but to agree with your judgement, as you leave me no rational choice to argue back with..

3 December 2006 at 01:54  
Anonymous Voyager said...

culture and religion transcends man made borders I believe

The last two words in the sentence are the basis of your faith.

3 December 2006 at 08:12  
Anonymous Stig said...

Cranmer is dissapointed with the Pope. The appearance of the pontiff in a mosque and his participation in muslim rituals makes Cranmer believe the pontiff has made a U-turn and given up his former so critical attitude to Islam.

This view may be too pessimistic. There is absolutely no dhimmitude in the amazing words the pontiff spoke while standing next to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, following mass at the patriarchal Church of S. George:

“.. In the face of this reality, we are called, together with all other Christian communities, to renew Europe’s awareness of its Christian roots, traditions and values, giving them new vitality,”

We hear a strong leader speeking, a leader fighting for Europe and European values.

3 December 2006 at 08:21  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Matt 22:17-22

3 December 2006 at 09:25  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

Cranmer, have you considered posting on the plight of Protestants in Ulster? You don't have to go as far as Turkey to uncover discrimination or persecution.

3 December 2006 at 12:14  
Anonymous Voyager said...

You don't have to go as far as Turkey to uncover discrimination or persecution.

No but if you compare your predicament to that of Christians in Turkey or Pakistan or India or China or Saudi Arabia.............I shall split my sides laughing

3 December 2006 at 13:10  
Anonymous bob said...

I've heard rumours that Catholics have also been descrinated against and persecuted in Ulster...

3 December 2006 at 14:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I come from India and I even went to a christian school for a while.. there are not many christians in India being perscuted.. If you look closely you will find that it the missionaries who try and convert people that suffer the common wrath.. I remember that a while ago a couple of them were killed or burnt.. Ofcourse odd incidents do occur and there are always extremists who exist but in general I would say despite occasional communal clashes in the more volatile regions persecution atleast in India is not all that common.. However I will not go so far as to say that it is non existent but I would classify it as somewhat negligble.. (I await your wrath for the neglible comment but you have to accept that a society without any form of discrimination is only theoratically possible much like the original concept of communism)..

3 December 2006 at 14:32  
Anonymous Voyager said...

there are not many christians in India being perscuted..

I added India to the list precisely because of the burning to death of a missionary and his young children in a Land Rover in India.


Now I put India in a completely different category from Pakistan where the legacy of Zia Ul-Haq made persecution of Christians a State obligation................India it is largely fear of the Harijans being given the elevated status of Christian which I suppose for many in India as in the Middle East is seen as the religion of the affluent and socially elite Westerner.

It is the politics of Christianity in India as opposed to the religion. It was nevertheless something that degrades any country where it occurs.

3 December 2006 at 16:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I refrain myself from commenting upon the last comment of the harijans simply because I am a bramhin and hence I accept the fact that on this issues my views are somewhat biased..
As for the missionary who did get burnt it is rather unfortunate, and when I say it I mean it, because those two young kids went to school with my cousin of around the same age in Hebron School, Ooty.
However there is the issue of forced conversion and the like which needs to be addressed in order to see the complete picture. Unfortunately extremists do exist in every country and the whole population must not be judged by the actions of few. Nonetheless, I agree with you when you say that when it occurs, it degrades any country in which it occurs.

3 December 2006 at 17:22  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I accept the fact that on this issues my views are somewhat biased..

you mean to say you achieve objectivity on others ? ! (LOL)

3 December 2006 at 17:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes.. if you want to take it that way.. lol
voyager.. do read one my first post on my blog..
it is about the concept of the reasonable man taken from A.p. herbert..
you may find it well amusing.. much like how it is simply not possible to achieve complete objectivity..

3 December 2006 at 17:33  
Anonymous Colin said...


we had this discussion about missionaries in India already a while ago on His Grace's posting Vicar keeps job after conversion.

At my 8:14 PM comment, I gave a link to the website Christianaggression which lists common tactics employed by missionaries to convert others to the Christian Faith: Charitable Allurement, Deception, Lies & Deceit, Educational Indoctrination, Medical Care, Sexual Abuse, and Violence. If some of them are employing such distasteful methods, we shouldn't be too surprised about some reactions, or should we?

Although we had this debate already at the previous blog, I still cannot see what advantage Indians would derive from being converted from a relatively peaceful polytheism to Christian monotheism while the latter is unable to stand the ground in European countries. Shouldn't the missionaries first to their job at home?

3 December 2006 at 21:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

colin.. well put..

3 December 2006 at 23:26  
Anonymous Voyager said...


Sashi Kejriwal 972-333-5705.
Met International
Carrollton Texas


4 December 2006 at 16:13  
Anonymous Colin said...


Would you care to explain your links or are you writing a mystery book.

My answer is:
Texas Oil

IP 65.256.342.134

4 December 2006 at 16:24  
Anonymous Voyager said...


Subject: Law or Lawlessness?

Dara Singh, the man responsible for the brutal killing of Graham Staines and his two sons, Phillip- 11, and Timothy- 7, while they were asleep, inside their station wagon in Manoharpur village (Orissa) in January 1999, has been reprieved of his death sentence (May 19th 2005).
Although Gladys Staines, the wife of Graham Staines, has publicly forgiven Singh, for the murders, I wonder can any our leaders of VHP, RSS and BJP do so if confronted with the same situation. On May 21, 2005 the body of Pastor K. Daniel from Kummarvadi was found with marks of acid attack. Few days later, the body of Pastor Isaac Raju was discovered wrapped in a jute bag behind bushes on June 2. After interrogating members of various militant Hindu groups in connection with the murder the police arrested Goverdhan, a member of Hindu Vahini (Hindu Army). According to news reports, Goverdhan and his accomplices, Satyanarayana and Ganesh, were emboldened to commit the murders after the Orissa High Court commuted the death sentence of Dara Singh to life imprisonment. It’s interesting to know how our Law makers can handle such situations when their own verdict is driving many to do more severe crimes.

- Santosh Thankachan, Mohali, India

Subject: dara nahi hara ...:(

HOw can they do injustice to Graham Staines murder... Dara singh dint lost .. Its not just mockery to the Indian Law but also a slap on the face of India.. it will make the reputation of India more worse and ppl wont trust Indians...Already we have a very bad rapport and then this is gonna be another feather in the cap .. pls pls.. Just hang him.. for the sake of humanity , law , give people a chance to trust the Indian Judicial system.

Posted by Manish Satija on 19-MAY-05

Subject: Dara Singh

Congratulations, Now next step should be his acquittal, then he should be a hero and champion of Hinduism, then he should contest an election (on BJP/Sena ticket), an MLA and MP and.....
Watch out, Dara singh's next avatar may be in seen in Lok Sabha. Hail Indian Democracy and three cheers to Jury that commuted his sentence.

Posted by Alpna on 20-MAY-05

Subject: Death to life.

Good to hear that the death sentence was commuted to life.
all those who feel this is shame or disguting never raise their voice, when the missionaries spread even to the most remote hamlets and fool the tribes into christianity. All these so called "Secular minded" intellectuals never say a word then.

To help the dollars,pounds,riyals flowing into the nation to help spread the cross and the crescent, we have the "Seculars" and the "Leftists" in plenty.

Does anyone bother about the spread of missionaries in the north-eastern states where the converts are far above the majority? And now they too want their own nation.
We have already lost a lot of India. Keep supporting the missionaries and madrasas and one day there would be no more Bharat.

Aditya Deekonda

4 December 2006 at 16:25  
Anonymous Tejus Ramakrishnan said...

no comment.. political reasons...

4 December 2006 at 18:57  
Anonymous Voyager said...


Would you care to explain your links or are you writing a mystery book.

I shall explain to you Colin that the Website is hosted by a man called Sashi Kejriwal who owns a company called Met International located in Carrollton, TX.......................he doesn't like Christian think he likes McDonalds burgers, and I suspecthe is a Hindu

4 December 2006 at 22:10  
Anonymous Colin said...


Thank you for the explanation.

he doesn't like Christian think he likes McDonalds burgers, and I suspecthe is a Hindu

OK, but does the fact that he has a company, likes big Macs and is a Hindu disprove his reports about the bad behavior of Christian Missionaries?

Similarily, would the fact that you own a company, like Pizza and are a Christian disprove your reports about the missionaries of Islam?

5 December 2006 at 11:44  
Anonymous Voyager said...

and are a Christian disprove your reports about the missionaries of Islam?

Islam does not have Missionaries..........only Christianity has Missionaries .

disprove his reports about the bad behavior of Christian Missionaries?

Since I know Carrollton, TX, I find it strange that one living in the USA hosts a site there with nothing but negativity on Christian missionaries in might equally be critical of the Indian caste system and its enforced impoverishment of many of its countrymen and its degradation of human beings.

I was simply surprised that living outside Dallas had not caused the Website owner to reflect on the nature of Social Darwinism in India

5 December 2006 at 14:22  
Anonymous Colin said...


"I find it strange that one living in the USA hosts a site there with nothing but negativity on Christian missionaries in India."

Shouldn't you consequently also find it strange that people living the West hoste sites with nothing but negativity on Islam?

"Indian caste system and its enforced impoverishment...Social Darwinism in India"

To my knowledge, India has affirmative actions, e.g. many university places reserved for Dalits - formerly known as "untouchables". See, Thomas Sowell's book "Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study".

The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote "The legislation, which will be considered in a session of Parliament that usually begins in late July, would fix quotas for lower-caste Hindus, known as “Other Backward Castes,” at federally supported higher-education institutions at 27 percent. That shift would increase the total number of quota seats at those institutions to 49.5 percent. Currently 22.5 percent of university seats are reserved for students from the “Scheduled Castes and Tribes” — the Indians once known as “untouchables.” The new quota would take effect in June 2007."

"According to recent estimates, the lower castes make up about 80% of India’s population. The 49.5% is still an underrepresentation of lower castes." Quotas for the lower 50 - 80% of the population looks to me more like a socialist plan for banning the bourgosie from higher education than like social darwinism. In the UK, you probably would fight against such socialist planning. However, you appear to support such a plan for avoiding "social darwinism" in India.

5 December 2006 at 21:41  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Shouldn't you consequently also find it strange that people living the West hoste sites with nothing but negativity on Islam?

Not at all - Islam is in our midst - I have 120.000 Muslims as neighbours. I do not see everything in reciprocal terms as you do - you yourself cannot do anything unless someone else does so too, how limiting. I simply remark that Carrollton being Carrollton I doubt this server would find great appeal in the neighbourhood.

that people living the West hoste sites with nothing but negativity on Islam?

Please list such sites

6 December 2006 at 07:44  
Anonymous Voyager said...

However, you appear to support such a plan for avoiding "social darwinism" in India.

How droll. It is you who are the Socialist not myself. I have never equated University entrance as the basis of human dignity - it is almost a bourgeois mockery in india to propose University places for harijan as somehow equity.

Still, if they feel removing the previous restrictions is worthwhile so be it...........what other groups have they restricted by quota in the past ? Christians ? Jews ?

6 December 2006 at 07:47  
Anonymous Colin said...


Would you mind to explain your statment "you yourself cannot do anything unless someone else does so too"

"that people living the West hoste sites with nothing but negativity on Islam?

Please list such sites"

Sure, here is a list of anti-islamic blogs: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here,

"It is you who are the Socialist" How droll. That must be the reason why I am always criticising socialism on this blog and elsewhere, e.g. my debate with a socialist on Euroserf's blog. You seem to confound me with Colin Fox MSP - Scottish Socialist Party

7 December 2006 at 00:49  
Anonymous Voyager said...

So Colin is Serf...........thanks for the URLs I can now post them further

7 December 2006 at 05:53  
Anonymous ... said...

cranmer sed -
"It was not so long ago that there were calls in London from representatives of this ‘religion of peace’ for a Papal beheading,"

those who called for a beheading r not tru representatives of Islam, i mean if u were to look at the extremists within every religion and act as tho they were the true followers, and therefore criticise the religion as a whole, well then, Cranmer, im saddened by ur weak differentiating abilities.

13 December 2006 at 19:26  

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