By Martin Roth, BosNewsLife Senior Special Correspondent reporting from Turkey
ISTANBUL, TURKEY (BosNewsLife)– The recent eight 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, commentators say.
At the same time, a report from a prestigious U.S. think tank said “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 throats of Necati Aydın, Uğur Yüksel, and Tilmann Geske.
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 daily interviewed Suzanne Geske, wife of the slain German national, who said she and her children had forgiven the murderers. But the newspaper noted: “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 stressed that only about 120,000 Christians remained in the country, and that they do not enjoy the same rights as the Muslim majority.
“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, the journalist added, “is reminiscent of what [Islamic State also known as] ISIS and other jihadist armies have been doing in the Middle East.”
And the writer warned: “In Turkey, the remaining Christian population, the grandchildren of genocide survivors, are still exposed to discrimination.”
Those “old habits, of Ottoman Turks do not seem to die.”
(Martin Roth (www.authormartinroth.com) is BosNewsLife’s Senior Special Correspondent covering international issues impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals, including on Christians facing persecution. He is an experienced Australian journalist and a former Tokyo-based foreign correspondent. Roth is the author of “Journey Out Of Nothing: My Buddhist Path to Christianity” and of the Brother Half Angel series of thrillers, which focus on the persecuted church.)