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ICC Note:

Sunday’s Zaman reports on the anti-Christian fervor in Turkey in the past decade and gives a brief background on Ergenekon, a nationalist network responsible for the killing of three Christians in Malatya in 2007.

By Orhan Kemal Cengiz
 
4/1/2011 Turkey (Sunday’s Zaman) – When members of the Ergenekon gang were arrested, starting with 2007, several documents were seized from them, in their houses and businesses. One of these documents was titled “Lobby,” which explains how and why Ergenekon would gain control over civil society in Turkey.
 
In 2004 and 2005, many ultranationalist associations were established. All of these associations were established by a bunch of people all of whom were in the core group of Ergenekon. They are Sevgi Erenerol, Kemal Kerinçsiz, Ergun Poyraz, Muammer Karabulut and Oktay Yıldırım. These people were also very active in the anti-Christian campaigns in those years. I would like to give the names of some of the organizations they established: the Turkish Revolutionaries Association, the Association for the Union of Patriotic Forces, the Grand Attorneys Association, the Ayasofya Association, the International Father Christmas Peace Council, the Association for Union of Great Powers, the National Union Movement Platform, the National Industrialists and Businessmen Association, the Private Security Sector Businessmen’s Union Association and the Leading Youth.

Again, all of these organizations were quite active in anti-Christian campaigns in Turkey. In fact, everything starts with quite an ordinary development. In 2002, the National Security Council (MGK), which consists of high military commanders and members of the government, defined “missionary activities” as a national threat. There was a parallel between this definition and the intense activity of those associations that were established by Ergenekon members. The media also gave much support in spreading paranoia about missionaries amongst the whole population in Turkey. If you were to look at “mainstream” newspaper’ coverage between 2004 and 2007 you wouldn’t be able to believe your eyes. You would get a sense that Turkey was being invaded by Christian missionaries and that the country was about to be divided. As I am writing this piece the second wave of the investigation into the Ergenekon-Malatya massacre connection has just started, and police have begun searching the homes of several theology professors who are known for their anti-Christian and anti-missionary stances. These professors were quite active in the war against missionaries; they appeared on TV programs almost every day and tried to convince the public how great a danger Turkey was in because of missionary activities.

According to the statement of the secret witness, Deniz Uygar, a former JİTEM aide who was active in anti-Christian campaigns, the local gendarmerie unit in Malatya, following the orders of their superiors, decided to scare away missionaries in this city, and through this action deter Christians across the country. They evaluated the information collected about Emre Gunaydın and his friends, who later killed three Christians by slitting their throats. Uygar also says in order to prepare these youngsters for the murders Ergenekon suspects gave seminars and spoke about missionary activity in Malatya.

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