Turkey is Typing: The Killings in Malatya

Turkey was stunned this week with a series of tragedies, a bus accident which killed 33 elementary students and most notably the brutal murder of three Christians who worked at a Bible publishing house in Malatya. The White Path lays the scene:

A handful of monsters walked into a Bible publisher in the Turkish city of Malatya the other day. They found three innocent people inside: Two Christian missionaries and a worker. They tied the hands and feet of their victims, tortured them, and then slit their throats. It was a yet another day of barbarism in the dark side of Turkish history.

Reaction to this act has been one of general condemnation, from Turkey and My Foreign Perspectives:

But it just gets worse! Yesterday, in Malatya, Turkey, famous for its apricots, this town experienced mayhem too with the killing of three people, whose throats were slit and found with their hands and feet bound. Why? They worked in a publishing house and thought to be doing missionary work.

Were they peaceful people? Probably. Did they deserve to die because they believed differently than others? No.

Erkan's Field Diary describes his first seeing of the news on the subject, at first he thought that it was just more news about violence in the southeast of the country:

When I was in a hurry glancing at news, I only saw the title of a news piece and concluded in my mind quickly that it was probably an attack against PKK sympathizers (like in the Şemdinli case but succeeded this time). See how it is normalized. It is an eastern city and there are possible suspects. Although that idea itself is not good at all, this is different, this is more brutal, and more beasty.

Ignore Me If You Can posts her feelings on what is becoming of her country:

For years; Turkey has been a home for Catholics, Christians and Jewish descendants. When you walk the streets of Istanbul, you feel that diversity in every street, on every corner of the historical part of the city. It’s magical.
Then, I get a wake up call; “Three slain at Bible publishing house.” “Priest slain in Church.” “Pope shot by Turk.”
All this hatred is so unnecessary and sickening that sometimes, my pride fades away and is overtaken by shame.

It shames me to know that the country that I am a part of and that is a part of me has ceased being a peaceful haven for those who wish to speak their mind and follow the religion of their choice. It is now the pawn of dark forces trying to tarnish our image and abolish the peace and religious tolerance that so many have worked for for so long.

Athanasia's Daily worries that the events would be misconstrued and encourage more attacks against Islam itself:

Islam does not deny Christianity, on the contrary, Islam accepts the previous religions and say that they all belong to same God. According to Islam, Jesus is a prophet just like Muhammad and we should respect him just like we respect Muhammad. We obviously need to learn more about Islam.

Celal from Icarus Redeemed posts a video blog from a Christian preacher who knew the victims.

While it has been reported that 10 people have been arrested for the crime, Turks are still wondering what these new events mean for their country and how Turkishness is perceived. The last word goes to The White Path:

As a more short-term solution to Christophobia, we Turks need to begin to stand against it more vigorously. Our all-mighty state shows no lack of determination in punishing insults (and sometimes even criticisms!) against “Turkishness” and its perceived sacred pillars. It should also start punishing those who spread hatred against the Christian — or Jewish, Armenian, Kurdish, etc. — citizens. That hatred not only ends in horrible bloodsheds, but also puts shame on us Turks more effectively than any insult could do.

Top Links for this week:

1. Both Talk Turkey and The White Path discuss how Abdullah Gul is the right choice for the Turkish Presidency.
2. The Carpetblogger talks about a new flavor of toothpaste.
3. Athanasia's Daily tells you how to waste time watching the musical version of Casablanca.


  • I am surprised more discussion about secularism vs. moderate Islam (and the fact that ‘seculars’ in Turkey are also ‘Muslim,’ have not taken place by the mainstream media.

    Maybe the ‘eroding of democracy’ is not a cause of concern for anyone, or changing the rules in the middle of the game when the game’s not going good enough is the ‘new’ democracy.

  • john kactuz

    “General condemnation” and nothing are the same if things don’t change, if nothing is done to even attempt to understand the source of the problem. This will not only happen again but it will get worse.

    As I posted here after the murder of Dink, this is about an ideology of hate and violence. If you will check here, post after post blamed it on “Nationalism” and “Turkish identity” issues. Now with the murder of these three men, the Turkish manistream media and bloggers (see comment above) still can’t seem to identify the problem that causes people to kill so easily.

    Let me give you a hint. Dink’s murderer yelled “I killed a non-Muslim” after the act. The vile people that brutally tortured, filmed and murdered these three men said the “did it for Islam”.

    Can you figure it out now? The problem is not nationalism, Turkey or even “turkishness.” The problem is Islam.

    Pity the poor non-Muslims of the Middle East, Turkey, Pakistan and other Islamic nations. And, of course, Muslims will pretend this actions have nothing to do with Islam, or, as always, blame others. Can Islam change? I have seen no indication that it can, or that the so-called “moderate” Muslims are willing to take a look into the soul of their faith and ask why, why and why. In simple terms: “radical” Muslims kill and “moderates” make excuses and blame others.

    It will get worse, much worse. Im am very pessimistic about our future. It will not be nice.

    John Kactuz

  • Mr. Bora Kanber

    Dear Metin, I am sorry, I could not understand anything from what you say. Can you repeat please?

  • John,

    If you want to get into a “your religion sucks more than mine does” debate, I’ll pass. Been there, done that.

    All organized religions are defective, divisive, prejudiced, violent, and supremist, IMHO. Crack open a holy book and you’ll find all kinds of directives to fight opposing believers and to physically punish sinners, describing right down to the kind of implements and methods required..

    Bird-dogging “Islam” as “the problem” is like saying “A German Shepard can kill you”.. well so can a rottweiler, pitbull, and doberman.. heck even a little weiner dog can nibble it’s way to your aorta, if you let it.

    On one point we might agree. I admit that overall, too many Muslims are still a little behind the curve on tolerance of “infidels”. But adjusted for “inflation”, Christianity is not so far ahead either. You get my drift.

  • The current ‘events’ in Turkey do not help the fight against the argument that John brings, at least from a perception point of view, of and by the West.

    Of course Turkey can choose the ‘who cares’ attitude, but the bottom line is that Turkey needs to pay attention to its image and the tarnishment of it lately.

    As I’ve commented recently, “Now the whole world can see clearly that there is no such thing as ‘moderate’ Islam. Heck, even the ones subscribing to it have a problem with owning it!”

    In the end, “I wonder if the worse fears of the ‘seculars’ have yet to be realized.”

  • Metin, unfortunately I agree with you. I have to say that Turkey’s PR and its ability to shoot and put its foot in mouth at the same time never cease to amaze me and nor does the Turkish Governments silence on many issues help either. The last 10 years there appears to have been an upswing in the tolerance of acts committed in Islams name in Turkey, honor killings, Hrant Dink and now this in Malatya. What I find more distressing though is that under the Ottomans religious tolerance appears to have been greater than under our current leaders! The Husband works in construction industry and one of his favorite mantras is that the example starts at the top. The problem as I see it is that people like the transport minister whose respsonse to a rail crash that killed a few people was Inshallah. And he kept his job!!!! “Nuff said

  • Gulay, you are right about that! Unless the ‘mentality’ and the patience with impatience changes in the near future, Turkey might be headed for some rude awakening. In the meantime, the ‘secular’ establishment’s threats are not helping, especially when if put to test, those ‘threats’ might be nothing more than a bluff and pure smoke when push comes to shove. Hopefully, they won’t have to show their hand as the ‘opposition’ Islamists fold once again, until the next time.

  • Alfonso

    In my view, the problem is not the issue of PR or the image Turkey projects, although from the pragmatic viewpoint (as when it wants to join the EU) these have significant consequences. The root of the problem lies in the religious and philosophical foundations of Islam. What happened in Malatya could happen, and is happening, in many other Islamic countries. There is an interpretation of Islam that brooks no compromise, and there are many muslims who would maintain that this is the true, and only, interpretation. This is the Islam that seeks ‘an eye for an eye’, that would wipe all ‘infidels’ from the face of the earth, that orders its women to be subservient for ever, etc. It is a version that is deeply rooted in the thought-world of the pastoral and tribal communities of another age. This is a faith that is not self-critical, would never tolerate any critical examination of its beliefs or practices – knows nothing about dialogue and tolerance. They are absolutely sure that they are right and every one else is wrong. There are countries such as Malaysia where a more easy-going, tolerant form of Islam is practised, but to the zealots, such countries are apostates.
    How can one co-exist peaceably with such? The only way, if they have the upper hand, is to convert to their faith or risk having our throats cut as well. ALternatively, we have to ensure they will never have the upper-hand, or they stay in their own communities where they can do no harm to others.

  • Mike M

    We watch and wonder. What kind of society does not protect the strangers in their land who do no harm, who desire good for their family and their neighbors’ family? Condemn the act and the guilty, but do nothing to prevent it or judge rightly the motive? What good is that. Such behavior may be acceptable to the naive at best. God will perform good from this. He always has, but God have mercy on those who turn their back and call good evil and evil good.

  • Gulay said “The Husband works in construction industry and one of his favorite mantras is that the example starts at the top”

    Gulay, I agree with you, however, when the top is not doing a good job, the bottom should stand up and make a change. Turkey needs a major revolution, lead by its people who are tired of reading about incidents like the one above or Hrant Dink’s murder. The government and military are happy with the way things are (not including the recent election issues), because they are running the show.

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