By Joseph C. DeCaro, BosNewsLife Special Correspondentt

Christians can face difficuties and even violence in Turkey.

ISTANBUL,TURKEY (BosNewsLife)– Two Turkish Christians were free Tuesday, October 26, after they were acquitted on charges of insulting Turkey and its people by spreading Christianity following a long legal battle. 

Turan Topal, 50, and Hakan Tastan, 41, always maintained they were faslely accused of spreading their faith and “insulting Turkishness, the military and Islam.”

At Silivri court, Judge Hayrettin Sevim acquitted both defendants on charges they had insulted the Turkish state (Article 301) and its people (Article 216) by spreading Christianity on a lack of evidence.

However, Sevim found them guilty of collecting information on citizens without permission (Article 135) and sentenced them a fine of about $3,170 (US).  Tastan expressed mixed feelings about the verdict.

“For both Turan and me being found innocent from the accusation that we insulted the Turkish people was the most important thing for us, because we’ve always said we’re proud to be Turks, but it is unjust that they are sentencing us for collecting people’s information,” Tastan said in published remarks.


At the time of their arrest, both men had posted contact information from individuals they said were interested in Christianity to the The Bible Research Center’s website. Their  said they will appeal the fine after they see the official statement.

“We are free from the charges that we have insulted the Turkish state and the people of Turkey and we’re glad for that,” said Tastan, “but we are sorry about the court’s sentence. We’re happy on one hand, and sorry on the other.”

Christians comprise less than one percent of Turkey’s predominanly Muslim population of 73 million. The country, which seeks European Union membership, has come under international pressure to improve the rights of minority Christians. Several Christians have been attacked and even killed in recent years.

Among the latest known victim was a Roman Catholic bishop, Luigi Padovese,  who was stabbed to death in eastern Turkey in June,  a day before he had planned to travel to Cyprus for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.  In recent years, several priests have been attacked in Turkey; one was shot to death in 2006 amid widespread Muslim anger over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Seperately, three missionaries were tortured and killed in 2007. (With additional reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos at BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest).





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