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ICC Note:

Five years ago today, “three Christians were bound to their chairs, tortured, and stabbed repeatedly at a Bible print shop in Malatya,” CBN reports.

By Gary Lane

4/17/2012 Turkey (CBN) – On April 18, 2007, three Christians were bound to their chairs, tortured, and stabbed repeatedly at a Bible print shop in Malatya — their throats slit.

Five years have now passed since the Malatya murders, an incident that was perhaps the most tragic and brutal murder of Christians in modern-day Turkey.

Today, believers are facing increased persecution and the country is gradually moving away from secularism.

“You see everyday is April 18. Everyday I have to live without him,” widow Susanne Geske told CBN News on the one year anniversary of her husband’s murder.

Five suspects went on trial for killing the men, but there is still no conviction.

Country of Concern

Church attendance dropped immediately after the Malatya incident. And although attendance is now growing again, so are the number of attacks against Christians.

The Protestant churches of Turkey documented 12 attacks in 2011. This included the beating of Christians for sharing their faith with Muslims.

No one has been prosecuted for any of these crimes, putting Turkey on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s list of “countries of particular concern” (CPC) for the first time.

Nina Shea, one of the commissioners supporting that move, said the Turkish government is suppressing Christian worship, and as a result Christian numbers are dwindling.

“They comprise 0.15 percent of the entire population of Turkey,” Shea said. “They are very frail, and we’re going to see them vanish in our lifetime if Turkey doesn’t lift its dense web of regulations and give them religious freedom.”

Turkey’s ambassador in Washington called the CPC designation “politically motivated.”

Middle East analyst Walid Phares is not surprised by the persecution of Christians in Turkey. He said Prime Minister Erdogan has been shifting away from a pro-NATO, pro-Western position to a “pro-Islamists, more anti-Israel and slightly anti-Western attitude.”

“For example, the alliance with Hamas,” Phares explained.

That alliance cooled relations with Israel, leading to a shootout over a flotilla of terrorists bound for Gaza.

Turkey also supported anti-Gadhafi rebels in Libya and, more recently, opposition fighters in Syria. The nation is positioning itself as a dominant Middle Eastern power.

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