Mass protests in Turkey against pro-Islamic government

By May 1, 2007

Turkey (MNN) — As many as one-million protesters flooded the streets of Istanbul Sunday, accusing the government of planning an Islamist state and demanding the government withdraw its presidential candidate. Many are calling this the largest crisis for this government since it assumed power in 2002.

While Turkey is an Islamic country, protestors says they don't want to live like one. They don't want to live in fear as do people in Iran and other countries that live under Islamic law.

However, they aren't welcoming Christians with open arms either. Glenn Penner of Voice of the Martyrs, Canada says he doesn't expect these protests to clear the way for evangelism there. "Proselytism has never been welcome in Turkey. It's not illegal, but it's never been welcome. In fact, even last week (last Wednesday), four street evangelists were arrested in Istanbul, and it's not even a crime."

Penner says because of this, the murder of the three Christians wasn't much of a surprise. "We've seen far more violence against Christians. I don't think anyone thinks that it's going to end, even with the government's promises saying, 'Yes, all religions have the right to share and practice their religions freely.' Constitutionally that's true in Turkey; societally it's not."

Penner doesn't believe the deaths of these three Christian will do much to stem the violence against Christians. "If there's any good thing that's going to come out of this, the gruesomeness may, in fact, shock the Turkish society enough that perhaps there will be more protection of Christian minorities."

VOM, Canada is encouraging people to write letters to Turkish officials, asking "that they acknowledge the religious rights of Turkish believers to practice their religion and to share their faith freely. That's part of religious rights and the ability for Turks to change their religion without fear of consequences."

According to Penner, this violence isn't stopping believers. "We do know that our Turkish brothers and sisters have not hesitated to continue to share their faith, and there are those who have come to Christ. It's amazing to think that one of those who gave their life a week and a half ago had only been a Christian for 2 years."

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