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The Pope in Turkey

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 28, 2006 11:46 AM

Looks like Pope Benedict XVI is safe so far. Via Breitbart.com:

He began his first visit to a Muslim country Tuesday with a message of dialogue and “brotherhood” between faiths, and Turkey’s chief Islamic cleric said at a joint appearance that growing “Islamophobia” hurts all Muslims…

… The pope is expected to call for greater rights and protections for Christian minorities in the Muslim world, including the tiny Greek Orthodox community in Turkey.

Benedict, seeking to ease anger over his perceived criticism of Islam, met with Ali Bardakoglu, chief of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directories.

“The so-called conviction that the sword is used to expand Islam in the world and growing Islamophobia hurts all Muslims,” Bardakoglu said at a joint appearance.

Maybe if Muslims stopped using swords and bombs and guns in the name of Islam, and if more Muslims stopped embracing violent jihad, and if more Muslims urged others to renounce jihadism without having to risk reprisals and their own lives, the self-inflicted wound would start to heal.

Robert Spencer zeroes in on Muslim intolerance in Turkey:

Unfortunately, the danger of and anger over the Pope’s visit to Turkey has overshadowed both the real focus of the visit, and what should be its major preoccupation. The main purpose of the Pope’s trip is to meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church. One may hope also that the Pope will take an opportunity to shed some light upon the woeful condition of religious minorities, principally Christians, in what is nominally a secular state that allows for religious freedom. Two converts from Islam to Christianity, Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal, are currently on trial on charges of “insulting ‘Turkishness’” and inciting hatred of Islam. What seems to be behind the charges is that Tastan and Topal were proselytizing – which, while not officially illegal, is frowned upon and has sometimes resulted in beatings of Christians trying to hand out religious literature. On November 4, a Protestant church in western Turkey was firebombed, after months of harassment that was ignored by Turkish authorities. The murderer of a Catholic priest, Fr. Andrea Santoro, last February in the Turkish city of Trabzon was recently sentenced to only eighteen years in prison. (The killer shouted “Allahu akbar!” as he fired shots at the priest.)

All this bespeaks a Turkish officialdom that is hostile – at best – to non-Muslim forms of religious expression, Turkey’s guarantees of religious freedom be damned. The institutionalized subjugation and second-class status of religious minorities under the Ottoman Empire was bad enough, but Turkish secularism has been, if anything, even worse. Constantinople was 50% Christian as recently as 1914 (its name was changed to Istanbul in 1930); today, it is less than one percent Christian. The Catholic Church has no legal recognition; Catholic churches, like other churches, remain inconspicuous so as not to draw the angry attention of mujahedin. Even the recognized Churches are not allowed to operated seminaries or build new houses of worship – in accord with ancient Islamic Sharia restrictions on non-Muslims in an Islamic state, which restrictions paradoxically enough still have at least some force in secular Turkey.

The righteous fury with which the Pope will likely be greeted in Turkey will shift attention from the shame Turkish authorities should feel over the mistreatment of Christians in their land that nominally allows for religious freedom. The mainstream media will focus on protests against the Pope, and pay scant attention to anything he may say, if he says anything at all, about the oppression of Christians in Turkey. And that, in the final analysis, may lead the Turkish government – for all its security precautions — to hope that the protestors will turn out in force.

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Jim Geraghty is blogging in Turkey and spots the Pope’s motorcade.

Also blogging in Turkey: Josh Trevino.

And here’s more on the Christian converts on trial for–yup–”insulting Islam:”

Hakan Tastan, 37, and Turan Topal, 46, are accused of making the insults and of inciting hate while allegedly trying to convert other Turks to Christianity. If convicted, the two Turkish men could face up to nine years in prison.

The men were charged under Turkey’s Article 301, which has been used to bring charges against dozens of intellectuals — including Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk.

The law has widely been condemned for severely limiting free expression and European officials have demanded Turkey change it as part of reforms to join the EU.

They also are charged under a law against inciting hatred based on religion.

Prosecutors accuse the two of allegedly telling possible converts that Islam was “a primitive and fabricated” religion and that Turks would remain “barbarians” as long they continued practicing Islam, Anatolia reported.

The prosecutors also accused them of speaking out against the country’s compulsory military service, and compiling databases on possible converts.

Tastan and Topal denied the accusations in court.

“I am a Turk, I am a Turkish citizen. I don’t accept the accusations of insulting ‘Turkishness,’” Anatolia quoted Tastan as telling the court. “I am a Christian, that’s true. I explain the Bible … to people who want to learn. I am innocent.”

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Previous:

Pope will visit Turkey
Report: Another victim of Pope Rage
Remembering Sister Leonella
This is what a real martyr looks like
It’s always Code Red for the jihadists
Report: Catholic priest missing in Iraq; London jihadis: “Pope Benedict watch your back”
The Pope’s e-mail address
Sister Leonella Sgorbati, RIP
Italian nun killed, Pope sorry for Muslim reaction
The Religion of Firebombs and Fatwas
Pope Rage on the Internet; church bombings in Gaza
I support the Pope
Oriana Fallaci, RIP, and the Religion of Perpetual Outrage

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