Ministry expresses dismay over ‘insulting Turkishness’

By March 27, 2009

Turkey (MNN) — The three-year-old case against two Turkish Christians accused of "insulting
Turkishness" is moving forward. A
2008 penal code amendment changed the charge to "insulting the nation of Turkey."

It also now requires permission from the Ministry of Justice to charge
individuals under the Article 301.

Nettleton with
Voice of the Martyrs explains, "For these Turkish believers to witness to other
Muslims, to encourage them to change their faith, is seen as insulting their
faith, which is so wrapped up in their identity that it becomes an offense to
the very nation." 

According to Compass Direct, the
justice ministry decision came as a surprise. 
Defense lawyer Haydar Polat said no concrete evidence of insulting
Turkey or Islam has emerged since the case first opened two years ago.

The report took note of a Ministry
of Justice statement that claimed approval
to try the case came in response to the original statement by three young men:
Fatih Kose, Alper Eksi and Oguz Yilmaz.

They accused Topal and Tastan of conducting missionary
activities in an effort to show that Islam was a primitive and fictitious
religion that results in terrorism, and to portray Turks as a "cursed people."

Nettleton thinks the pair was
set up and may now be used as an example. "It seems like people came and asked them questions while the
police were videotaping what was going on. It seems very clear they were

In 2006, Topal and Tastan were
volunteers with The Bible Research Center. 
Last week, Compass Direct says, they received official association
status and changed their name to "The Society for Propagating Knowledge of the

Prosecutors now want an inquiry into
the nature of the association since the defendants used their contact lists to
reach people interested in Christianity. "Because they think like this, they believe
that the Bible center is an important unit to the missionary activities," said
Polat. "And they allege that those working at this center are also guilty." It's a puzzling view, since missionary
activities are not illegal in Turkey.

In the meantime, believers who
are sharing their faith are being extra careful. The next hearing on the case is scheduled for May 28. Pray.
"It's such a stretch to think that two Christians talking about Jesus on
the street could somehow insult the entire nation of Turkey. We need to
pray for justice and pray that the truth will come out through this
trial process."

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