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Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

vering advocacy of

vering advocacy of religious freedom and oppositionto killing in the name of God with the pursuitof dialogue with Turkey and other Muslim majoritystates.THE PLOT THICKENSNot all Christians in Turkey accepted the denialsand obfuscation of Ankara and the Vaticanabout the circumstances surrounding the murder.Foremost among them was the archbishop ofSmyrna, Ruggero Franceschini—Padovese’s successoras head of the country’s Catholic Church—who rejected the official explanation of hiscolleague’s murder andmaintained that the popePlain-speaking had received “bad counsel”prior to his denial ofabout persecutionof Christians the murder’s political orreligious motives.invites hostile32The archbishop hadreactions,lived in Iskenderun, wheresometimesthe murder took place, anddeadly.had known the assassinand his family personally.In the hope of ascertainingthe true facts, he immediately visited the sceneof the crime, subsequently telling the press thathe could not accept the “usual hastily concocted,pious lie” about the murderer’s insanity. He alsodismissed the claim that the assassin was a Catholicconvert, confirming that he was a non-practicingMuslim. 33The archbishop did not doubt the murder’sreligious and political motivation. “I believe thatwith this murder, which has an explicitly religiouselement, we are faced with something that goesbeyond government,” he said. “It points towardsnostalgic, perhaps anarchist groups who want todestabilize the government. The very modalities ofthe murder aim to manipulate public opinion.” 34What the archbishop suspected was a crimestage-managed by Turkey’s “deep state”—an32 Documentation Information Catholiques Internationales(Menzingen, Switzerland), June 28, 2010.33 Asia News, June 10, 2010.34 Ibid.opaque underworld where powerful elementswithin the state, especially the military and securityservices, act in conjunction with violent extremistgroups, such as the ultra-nationalist GreyWolves and the Islamist Hezbollah, as well as theapolitical criminal underworld, to undertake special,illegal operations in the political interest ofthe country’s ruling elite. 35Until recently, the deep state was imbued withthe secularist ideology of the republic’s foundingfather, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. But since comingto power in 2003, Erdoðan’s AKP has vigorouslyendeavored to lay hands on all levers of powerincluding the deep state with a view to promotingits Islamist, “neo-Ottoman” vision for the country.36 This has in turn produced a schizophrenicdeep state with older elements loyal to the Kemalistopposition and newer elements loyal to the AKP’sIslamist agenda.Since 2007, the Turkish media has feastedon a steady stream of revelations about an extensivedeep state network called “Ergenekon.”Government prosecutors have secured the arrestand indictment of scores of retired and stillservingmilitary and security officials for allegedlyplotting to destabilize the AKP-dominatedgovernment. Show trials are already underway.Deep state documents released by the prosecution,if taken at face value, point to Ergenekonas a source of anti-church activity, including thetorture and Islamic-style ritual murder of three evangelicalChristian book publishers in the town ofMalatya in April 2006. 37The Ergenekon conspiracy has been similarlylinked with the murder of the 61-year-oldCatholic priest, Fr. Andrea Santoro—shot andkilled in his Trabzon church in February 2006.Witnesses report that the convicted killer, a 16-year-old, shouted “Allahu Akbar” immediately35 Gareth H. Jenkins, “Between Fact and Fiction: Turkey’sErgenekon Investigation,” Silk Road paper, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Washington,D.C., Aug. 2009; H. Akim Ünver, “Turkey’s ‘Deep-State’ andthe Ergenekon Conundrum,” The Middle East Institute, PolicyBrief, no. 23, Apr. 2009.36 Michael Rubin, “Erdoðan, Ergenekon, and the Struggle forTurkey,” Mideast Monitor, Aug. 8, 2008.37 Today’s Zaman, Nov. 22, 2008, Jan. 17, 2009, Apr. 13,2010.46 / MIDDLE EAST QUARTERLY SPRING 2011

efore firing his pistol. 38 BishopPadovese said at the time thatthe assassination “did not seemincidental” as it occurred whilepassions were aroused by theDanish cartoon affair. 39 Theformer papal nuncio to Turkey,Msgr. Antonio Lucibello, hadsimilarly argued that there was amastermind behind Santoro’smurder. 40Prosecutors also ascribedthe January 2007 murder of theArmenian Christian journalist,Hrant Dink, by a 17-year-old, tothe Ergenekon. 41 A vigorous andwell-known campaigner againstTurkey’s denial of the Armeniangenocide, Dink had been convictedof having violated article302 of the penal code banning“insults to Turkishness.” Thehanged body of Dink’s Turkishlawyer, Hakan Karadað, wasfound in suspicious circumstancesthe day after the Padovese murder. 42It is far from certain whether the alleged anti-AKP Ergenekon conspiracy is a reality, orwhether it is largely an AKP fabrication, designedto cover the efforts of Erdoðan’s Islamists to turnthe deep state into an instrument for promotingtheir own agenda. 43 But whoever may be pullingthe strings, Kemalists or Islamists, the deep stateis no friend of Turkey’s Christians.A TURKISHANTI-CHRISTIAN AGENDAPersecution, however, is by no means limitedto the deep state. Like their counterparts in mostPhoto will not display.Inside Istanbul’s 17th century Blue Mosque, Pope BenedictXVI (center, with the Mufti of Istanbul, November 30, 2006)prays silently. The pontiff dismayed many Turkish Christiansby declaring, a day after Bishop Padovese’s murder, thatTurkey should not be held culpable for the tragic event andthat what “is certain is that it was not a religious or politicalassassination.”of the Islamic Middle East, Turkey’s Christiansare effective hostages to the arbitrary actions ofpowerful elites, made up of Islamic state and nonstateactors who collectively monopolize violence.The oldest Christians retain living memoryof the state-sponsored mass deportations andmassacres that culminated in the World War IArmenian genocide. During the twentieth century,Turkey’s Christian population has droppedto the verge of extinction. 44 The last anti-Christianmass violence was the 1955 deep statesparked,anti-Greek pogrom in Istanbul, whichalso took a heavy toll on the city’s Jewish andArmenian populations. 45Such memories are reinforced in the youngergeneration of Christians by continuing acts ofsmaller scale and more discriminative violence.38 Reuters, Oct. 4, 2007.39 Catholic News Service, Feb. 6, 2006.40 Asia News, Feb. 7, 2006.41 BBC News, Feb. 4, 2008.42 Today’s Zaman, June 5, 2010.43 Rubin, “Erdoðan, Ergenekon and the Struggle for Turkey.”44 Ahmet Igduygu, Sule Toktas, and Bayram Ali Soner, “ThePolitics of Population in a Nation-building Process: Emigrationof Non-Muslims from Turkey,” Ethnic and Racial Studies,Feb. 2008, p. 363.45 Ünver, “Turkey’s ‘Deep-State’ and the Ergenekon Conundrum.”Eibner: Turkish Christians / 47

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