The wife of a pastor who was stabbed to death in Turkey on Nov. 19 reportedly gave birth to their second child just days after the tragedy. Pastor Jinwook Kim, 41, who had been pastoring a small group of Christians in the city of Diyarbakir, was tragically killed after being stabbed three times - twice in the heart and once in the back.
Government officials insist that the attack on Kim was a mugging, rather than an assassination for his Christian faith. However, locals believe Kim was targeted for his faith.
According to International Christian Concern, locals in the area had called for a police investigation after the murder. "This is the first martyrdom since Malatya. The Turkish government has started a massive deportation of Protestant leaders who served in Turkey for many years," a local church leader told ICC. "But deportation isn't enough for evangelists. This kind of attack would scare [them]. I think this is the last level of a plan, being like China."
Another evangelist in Turkey had reportedly been receiving death threats just a day before Kim's murder. He insists that the attack was religiously motivated. "This wasn't just a robbery; they came to kill him," he said, according to ICC. "We always get threats. A brother prophesied a few days ago that they (the government) are going to kick out these foreigners, and probably kill a few Turkish brothers. They are going to cause chaos. They know that I am trying to spread the Gospel, so they may target me too. This may be a sign."
Claire Evans, ICC's Regional Manager for the Middle East stated: "Martyrdom is not normal in Turkey, and this incident sadly shows just how much the country has changed. Just this year, we have seen a significant increase in incidents proving how the environment has grown more hostile toward Christianity. "
Shock, grief and fear reverberated among Turkey's Christian community after the attack.
The pastor's death comes at an increasingly difficult time for Christians in Turkey, with some foreign church leaders having been imprisoned or deported since a failed coup in 2016.
Andrew Brunson, an American pastor, spent two years in prison on trumped up terrorism and espionage charges before being freed after the US imposed economic sanctions on Turkey.
Last month, CSW says billboards appeared in the conservative, south-western city of Konya encouraging Muslims not to befriend Jews and Christians.
The charity warns that the Christian minority in the country has been increasingly subjected to animosity, hate speech and anti-Christian sentiments.
It added that the murder of Kim had brought back painful memories of the 2007 torture and murder of three Christians at a publishing house in the city of Malatya.
Mr Thomas called on the Turkish government to take action to stop the targeting of Christians and other minorities.
"The government must also crack down on hate speech targeting Christians and other religious minorities, as it facilitates an atmosphere in which these communities are at increased risk," he said.
"We call on the international community to press the Turkish government to end all forms of discrimination against religious minorities, and respect its constitutional obligations to protect and respect the rights of all citizens regardless of their religious affiliation or ethnic background."