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Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

Some journals deal with

Some journals deal with politics, some with popular culture.Azure deals with ideas—the most original, urgent ideasthat Israeli, American, and European thinkers have to offer.Read Azure, and be a part of the Jewish intellectual debate.www.azure.org.ilPhoto © Israel Government Press Office40 / MIDDLE EAST QUARTERLY SPRING 2011

Turkey’s Christiansunder Siegeby John EibnerThe brutal murder of the head of Turkey’s Catholic Church, Bishop LuigiPadovese, on June 3, 2010, has rattled the country’s small, diverse, and hardpressedChristian community. 1 The 62-year-old bishop, who spearheaded theVatican’s efforts to improve Muslim-Christian relations in Turkey, was stabbed repeatedlyat his Iskenderun home by his driver and bodyguard Murat Altun, who concludedthe slaughter by decapitating Padovese and shouting, “I killed the Great Satan.Allahu Akhbar!” He then told the police that he had acted in obedience to a “commandfrom God.” 2Though bearing all the hallmarks of a jihadist execution, the murder was met bydenials and obfuscation—not only by the Turkish authorities but also by Western governmentsand the Vatican. This is not wholly surprising. In the post-9/11 era, it hasbecome commonplace to deny connections between Islam and acts of violence despitemuch evidence to the contrary. 3 But while this denial has undoubtedly sought to win thehearts and minds of Muslims, as opposed to Christians, Jews, or any other religiousgroup, it has served to encourage Islamist terrorism and to exacerbate the persecutionof non-Muslim minorities even in the most secularized Muslim states. For all PresidentBarack Obama’s high praise for its “strong, vibrant, secular democracy,” 4 and PrimeMinister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan’s “Alliance of Civilizations” rhetoric, Turkey is verymuch entrenched in the clash of civilizations paradigm. Unless Ankara is prepared tocombat the widespread “Christophobia” that fuels violence and other forms of repression,the country’s Christians are doomed to remain an oppressed and discriminatedagainst minority, and Turkey’s aspirations of democratic transformation and full integrationwith Europe will remain stillborn.John Eibner, chief executive officer of ChristianSolidarity International-USA, focuses onreligious and ethnic conflict, mainly in theMiddle East, North-East Africa and EasternEurope. He has visited these regions on numeroushuman rights fact-finding and humanitarianaid missions.1 According to International Religious Freedom Report 2009,U.S. Department of State, Washington D.C., there are approximately90,000 Christians in Turkey. Vatican sources claim atotal of 30,000 Catholics. Catholic News Agency (Rome), Nov.27, 2006.2 Asia News (Bangkok), June 7, 2010.3 Daniel Pipes, “Denying [Islamist] Terrorism,” The New YorkSun, Feb. 8, 2005.4 “Remarks by President Obama to the Turkish Parliament,”in Ankara, Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, Apr.6, 2009.Eibner: Turkish Christians / 41

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