Bombing widens division in Turkey

By July 29, 2008

Turkey (MNN) — Deadly twin
blasts in Turkey this weekend heightened insecurities over the
secular-religious rift. 

David Harder says partner
TURK-7 feels the pressure. "Turkey
is in a very tense time. The ruling political party is on trial right now to
prove that it should exist. It's a very
complicated scenario. Nobody knows how it will play out. That is a big threat
in the background to the stability of the country." 

The Constitutional court's
decision could shut down the Justice and Development Party's government for
alleged Islamism. Doing away with it would
fly in the face of the nationalist thinking that ‘"o be Turkish is to be Muslim,
and to be Muslim is to be Turkish."

Analysts think any changes to the
85-year-old system could trigger months of political upheaval. Already, the rumblings can be felt in the
streets. Add to that the shock of the
terror attacks, and the tensions go up even higher.

Christians are often singled out
in times of sectarian violence. While the Turkish constitution includes freedom
of religion, worship services are only permitted in "buildings created for
this purpose," and officials have restricted the construction of buildings
for minority religions.

The few who dare to profess
Christ face harassment, threats and prison. Evangelism is difficult. According to a 2007 report from I.N. Network, a
ministry working in the country, the number of believers reportedly declined
from 22% to only .2% between 1900 and 2000, and most of these Christians
are non-Turkish.

Even so, the TURK-7 team shares
the hope of Christ through programs produced in Istanbul. 

Harder says no one from their
ministry was hurt in the bombings. He
urges prayer for the team in Turkey because "they are members of the community. They are the ones who can most
effectively train and encourage the Christians who are living near them. SAT-7
is working within the local community, making the program locally, because they
will be the most effective to minister in the region."

With a population of 70 million
people, of whom 99% are Muslim, the evangelical church of the 21st
century desires to build relationships with their Muslim neighbors.

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