Open Doors Responds to Turkey Christian Murders

Open Doors has called on all countries to guarantee religious freedom after the horrific murder last week of three Christian workers in Turkey.

In a gruesome assault on Turkey's tiny Christian community, five Turkish Muslim extremists entered a Christian publishing office in the south east province of Malatya and slit the throats of three Protestant Christians. Two of the victims, Necati Aydin, 36, and Ugur Yuksel, 32, were Turkish converts from Islam. The third man, Tilmann Geske, 46, was a German citizen.

Eddie Lyle, CEO of Open Doors UK, said "This tragic incident is the latest example of a worsening trend of persecution against Christians in Turkey, that we cannot ignore any longer.

"Christians in Turkey are constantly under attack. They are crying out for help and they need our prayers to strengthen them. We can, and must, answer that call," he said.

According to reports in the Turkish press, four out of the five accused - all men between the ages of 19 and 20 - have admitted that they were motivated by "nationalist and religious feelings".

Reports also say that all five of the accused were carrying identical notes in their pockets reading, "We did this for our country. They [Christians] are attacking our religion."

Mr Lyle said, "We must ask ourselves the question, 'What is it that causes young men to act with such violence and hate towards innocent people, living simply and going about their daily work?'"

He called on all countries to protect religious freedom. "It is vital that the circumstances which generated such heinous crimes, are not allowed to exist, so that Christians in all countries can freely witness to their faith and worship without the spectre of persecution hanging over them."

The World Evangelical Alliance has sent a representative to Turkey to comfort the families of the three Christian workers.

Johan Candelin of Finland travelled to Turkey last Friday.

She 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.

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