British group Christian Solidarity Worldwide has called on the Turkish government to investigate an allegation that the country’s security officials offered to pay an ultranationalist “whatever he wants” in return for the assassination of religious leaders.
Last month, an ultra-nationalist man, identified only as Tolgahan A., confessed to Vedat Serin, a Salvation Church leader in the eastern city of Malatya, that members of the intelligence and counter-terrorism unit of the Turkish gendarmerie had offered him “everything he wanted”. if he killed Serin and two other Christian leaders – former pastor Tim Stone and Pastor Ihsan Özbek, president of the Kurtuluş Churches Association, CSW said in a statement.
The man, allegedly linked to the Nationalist Movement Party, was given the addresses and photos of Serin and the others, Ahval News reported, adding that he was also given a gun and sent to church with a friend. . But when they saw a little boy playing with a computer inside, they left.
A separate murder attempt was called off following the murder of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov in the capital, Ankara, in December 2016.
In April 2007, two Turkish converts to Islam and a German citizen from the Serin church were assaulted, tortured and murdered in a publishing house by five ultra-nationalist assailants. Tolgahan A. reportedly praised the murder on social media at the time.
Although the would-be assassin was ordered to assassinate Christian leaders around 2015-2016, it was only recently that a complaint was filed with the Malatya Attorney General’s Office after Tolgahan A. confessed the alleged conspiracy.
“While we are relieved that the plans to assassinate these religious leaders ultimately ended in failure, the allegation that they were orchestrated by elements of Turkey’s security apparatus is deeply concerning,” he said. CSW CEO Scot Bower.
“Although several years have passed since these assassination attempts, it is essential that the Turkish government acts on the disturbing information that has come to light and carries out a full and prompt investigation into these allegations, paying particular attention to identification and accountability. all JITEM members identified as having been involved,” Bower added.
Turkey has a long history of Christian persecution and its government still refuses to admit that the Ottoman Turks committed the genocide of Christian Armenians in 1915.
Turkey is 99% Muslim, according to its own statistics. Although its constitution provides for freedom of religion, the government uses regulations that require the registration of religious groups to make it more difficult to practice non-Islamic religions. Hatred towards Christians and Jews in the country often leads to discrimination, stigmatization and attacks.
In July 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan transformed Hagia Sophia, a former Christian cathedral, from a museum into a mosque, undoing his 1934 transformation from a mosque to a cathedral.
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