Christians Condemn Brutal Bible Worker Killings in Turkey

The World Evangelical Alliance is to send a representative to Turkey to comfort the families of the three Christian workers killed in a brutal attack on their Bible publishing house earlier in the week.

|PIC1|The latest attack in Turkey to be directed at Turkey's minority Christian community has stunned Christians in the region.

The three Christian men - Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel of Turkey, and Tilman Ekkehart Geske of Germany - were bound and had their throats slit in a vicious attack in their Christian book publishing office.

Police said they have detained 10 men in connection with the killings.

WEA representative Johan Candelin of Finland will travel to Turkey on Friday to provide spiritual support to the families of the three deceased.

Candelin said, "Something very dangerous is happening in Turkey at this time. The country is knocking at Europe's door and far from everyone is happy about it. At the same time the nation is about to choose a new president and tension between Islamists and nationalists is growing stronger everyday."

He added: "I ask all Christians to pray for families of the victims, for the protection of the Christian minority and for Turkey."

The three men were members of the Malatya Kurtulus Church, and initial reports have attributed the murders to right-wing Muslim extremists who had previously threatened and protested against the bookshop, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.

CSW's National Director, Stuart Windsor, said: "We are deeply saddened to hear that these three men have been so brutally murdered in Turkey and our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this time.

"It raises difficult questions over the increased intolerance of minorities in Turkey. We hope the authorities act quickly to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice and to quell the rise in extremists who are bent on using violent methods to terrorize the religious and ethnic minorities in Turkey."

The President of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, Thomas Wipf has expressed his deeply-felt sympathy to the victims' next of kin: "Both Muslims and Christians in Europe face great challenges over the political exploitation of religion. Our religions are peace movements. Witness to God is incompatible with the use of violence.

"We will do most lasting honour to the memory of the victims if we make this crime the occasion for strengthening the bonds of trust and peace between Christians, Jews and Muslims in Europe.

"I note with gratitude that the Muslim population of the town of Malatya has spontaneously shown solidarity with the victims."

Wipf added: "Turkey is a European county. There too people must be able to take it for granted that they can choose their religion freely and practise it together in public."

Political tensions have been rising in the secular but largely Sunni Muslim country over the past year. Earlier this year, Armenian Christian editor Hrant Dink was shot dead by an ultranationalist youth. Last year, a Catholic priest was killed.

Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director of the WEA, also expressed grief over the tragic event: "We condemn this act of violence against Turkish Christians. We must find a way of resolving conflict without resorting to these kinds of brutal acts. It is incumbent upon government, community and faith leaders to help create a climate of mutual respect that builds understanding and reconciliation.

"Today, we grieve for the loss of our brothers and we stand in solidarity, prayer and support for Christians in Turkey."