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Despite the EU’s demands on human rights, Turkey’s persecution of Christians is escalating

I wonder why Brussels isn’t interested? Maybe it approves

By on Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Patriarch Bartholomew I meets European Commission president José Manuel Barroso (AP Photo/Murad Sezer, Pool)

Patriarch Bartholomew I meets European Commission president José Manuel Barroso (AP Photo/Murad Sezer, Pool)

To begin with, an interesting story about the doings of an American congressional committee, which I cannot imagine (given the head of steam building up among our own legislators in favour of Turkey’s admission to the EU) taking place in any committee room of the Westminster Parliament:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A US congressional committee on Wednesday urged Turkey to ensure religious freedom and return church properties to their “rightful owners” in a vote opposed by the Ankara government.

After a spirited debate, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a text that says Turkey should “end all forms of religious discrimination” and “return to their rightful owners” all churches and other Christian historic sites.

“Religious minorities are under grave threat in today’s Turkey,” said Representative Ed Royce, a Republican from California.

“Rather than enjoying protection, very vulnerable religious minority groups including the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church are denied full legal status,” he said.

Turkey in 1971 closed a major seminary of the Orthodox Church, which has been seated in Istanbul since Byzantine times, as the secular state tried to bring universities under its control.

Turkey does not recognize Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I’s title as head of Orthodox Christians and considers him only the spiritual head of Turkey’s tiny Greek Orthodox minority.

Some readers may remember a piece I wrote in February, about legal attempts then under way (and still, so far as I can discover, unresolved) to seize the land surrounding the Syro-Orthodox monastery of Mor Gabriel (necessary for the community’s continued existence) amid claims that the monastery itself was built on land on which there had once been a mosque, a ludicrous contention since the monastery itself actually predates Islam. This attempt is being supported by the pro-Islamic ruling party of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. The point is that this case is not unique: it is simply one more example of what appears to be a mounting Islamist-inspired anti-Christian campaign, which the Turkish government, despite its ambitions to join the EU, is doing nothing to discourage. Consider a story reported by Zenit in December 2009:

Three Muslims entered the Meryem Ana Church, a Syriac Orthodox church in Diyarbakir, and confronted the Reverend Yusuf Akbulut, according to a Dec. 15 report by Compass Direct News, an agency specializing in reporting on religious persecution.

They told the priest that that unless the bell tower was destroyed in one week, they would kill him. The Muslims were apparently acting in reaction to the recent referendum in Switzerland, which banned the construction of new minarets for mosques.

According to the report Meryem Ana is more than 250 years old and is one of a handful of churches that serve the Syriac community in Turkey.

There is little doubt that the Turkish government’s anti-Christian policies have a good deal of popular support: this is, quite simply, an anti-Christian culture (and therefore incompatible, I would argue, with the European culture it claims to want to be part of). About the same time as the incident at Meryem Ana, a survey showed that more than half of the population of Turkey opposes members of other religions being allowed to hold meetings or to publish materials explaining their faith. The survey also found that almost 40 per cent of the population of Turkey said they had “very negative” or “negative” views of Christians.

This is a problem with a long and violent history, which has in no way moderated in recent decades: ponder for a moment the state-sponsored and state-orchestrated Istanbul pogrom of September 1955, which was directed primarily at Istanbul’s Greek minority.

The riots were orchestrated by the Turkish military’s Tactical Mobilization Group, the seat of Operation Gladio’s Turkish branch; the Counter-Guerrilla. The events were triggered by the news that the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki, north Greece – the house where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was born in 1881 – had been bombed the day before. A bomb planted by a Turkish usher of the consulate, who was later arrested and confessed, incited the events. The Turkish press conveying the news in Turkey was silent about the arrest and instead insinuated that Greeks had set off the bomb.

A Turkish mob, most of which had been trucked into the city in advance, assaulted Istanbul’s Greek community for nine hours. Although the mob did not explicitly call for Greeks to be killed, over a dozen people died during or after the pogrom as a result of beatings and arson. Jews, Armenians and Muslims were also harmed.

The pogrom accelerated the dramatic decline already taking place in the ethnic Greek population in Turkey, and particularly in Istanbul. In 1927, the Greek population of Turkey was 119,822; the official Turkish figures for 2008 were 3,000–4,000, though according to Human Rights Watch, the Greek population in Turkey was estimated at 2,500 in 2006. All this has had, of course, a huge effect on the Christian cause in Turkey itself, and puts the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in an almost impossibly difficult position. Turkey requires by law that the Ecumenical Patriarch must be an ethnic Greek by birth (and just what kind of country is it that has laws like that?), holding Turkish citizenship, despite the expulsion of most the Greek population. There have also been expropriations of church property by the state, which closed down the Orthodox Theological School of Halki in 1971; appeals against this from the United States, the European Union and various NGOs have been simply ignored. The Turkish government (unlike the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, the Pope, and indeed most of Christendom) refuses to recognise the Ecumenical Patriarch as the titular head of worldwide Orthodoxy, and simply insists (as though it was any business of theirs) that he is no more than the head of Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians in Turkey.

I could go on and on. The point about all this (one point about it at least, there are of course many) is that despite the Turkish government’s claim to be addressing its appalling human rights record in response to EU demands, the one thing it isn’t doing is to clean up its attitude to the Christian minority in Turkey. And the EU doesn’t even seem to be interested. I wonder why that is? Do you suppose they have a sneaking sympathy with the Turks?

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    Wonderful post, Dr Oddie, about a subject that is unjustly neglected in our press. I like Turks, I like Tukey, having visited the country several times, but their treatment of Christians is a disgrace and unworthy of them. They simply must change, and the more the spotlight is put on these anti-Christian policies and attitudes the better.

  • David

    A rare and very welcome criticism of Turkey.

    Notice that in the US “Christian conservatives” have nothing to say about the repression (and genocides) of Christians (Armenians, Assyrianss, Greeks) in “Turkey” simply because Turkey is a member of NATO.  What a bunch of phonies.  The same goes for left-of-center Christians.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder what percentage of catholic weekly newspaper bloggers have negative views of Islam and of Turkey’s application to join the EU?  Dr Oddie’s view of dialogue with Islam, of Turkish membership of the EU and indeed of the EU itself are all familiar to readers and start from an a priori position.  They are also probably shared by many of the non and anti-religious population  of Western Europe.  Relations between Greeks and Turks and other communities in the Eastern Levant are extremely difficult but this sort of blog is just inflammatory. And lest anyone think that Western Europe is immune from eruptions of hatred on the basis of religion or ethnicity open your eyes.

  • ms catholic state

    Even if Turkey did change their attitude to Christians…..there is no guarantee it would be permanent.  The EU isn’t that powerful…(or interested).  I don’t why the EU wants Turkey to enter….except to strenghten itself against the growing influence of China; to fill the demographic deficit; and to destroy any last vestige of European Christian identity. 

    I even hear calls from some luminaries on Radio 4 that Europe should merge with the whole of the Middle East.  I can only assume it is for the above purposes.

  • carl

    we have Turkish Catholics in our parish and they tell of a day each year where Turkish muslims believe if they kill a Christian the muslim is guaranteed heaven. The west is silent of the many murders of Christians in Turkey and other muslim countries but are quick to speak out when muslims are attacked. There is something seriously wrong with this!

  • Anonymous

    An article that points out the growing discrimination and persecution that Christians face in Turkey is inflammatory? How exactly? Are you also of the opinion that articles about the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza are also inflammatory? Or are you denying that it’s actually happening? Also I fail to see the relevance of your last sentence, this is an article about Turkey.

  • Anonymous

    This problem is also seen in the consistent refusal of European leaders to condemn the persecution of Christians in other parts of the world. 

  • Anonymous

    Maybe they don’t know about it, David…

  • Egiritligil

    WHat kind of bullshit is that. There is no such things…Are they asylum seekers ?

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    Given that the EU bodies are generally anti-Christian it’s hardly surprising that they are doing nothing to stop anti-Christian actions elsewhere.

    In fact, I would posit that that they would be very reluctant to point out anti-Christianity in other countries because doing so might embolden Christians to use the same argument against them. The U.S. under the current isn’t much better at the moment, although at least there one always has the hope of shifting in a whole new bunch of politicians who might take an opposite view.

    As it is, the EU’s decision not to pay lip service to ‘religious freedom’ – while incessantly re-defining the phrase – might very well be the most honest thing in its repertoire.

  • Anon

    Instead of assuming it “the Turks” who cause a problem — which suggests some sort of bias on your part., why don’t you look at the various currents inside the country and see if this is part of a larger picture? As for the EU, who the H*ll cares about it?

  • jng

    If one accepts that the EU is under the control of an anti-religious oligarchy, their attitude towards Turkey is more comprehensible.  “Anti-religious” in European minds is anti-Christian, and modern Islam is anti-Christian, certainly in countries where the majority of citizens are followers of Islam.  So, there is a certain empathy there.  The irony is that, while Islam is not a cultural threat to Christianity, indeed the opposite is probably the case, it might well be to the philosophically shaky secularism of a Western World, which looks increasingly like a scopion in a circle of fire stinging itself to death.
    Even our morally purblind administrators, with their dictatorial application of selected rights, the basis of which they do not seem to understand, must at least have an inkling that their pretence of respect for those rights will be blown sky high if they admit a Turkey, with its current policies, into their decision making.
    Yet, increasingly, it seems to be the case that the only hope of putting our society on a firmer foundation is that Christianity wins the moral argument and Governments reflect this in their laws:  not much of a hope  at the moment as the voice of The Church is either stifled or distorted and many Catholics are so lukewarm that it is difficult to know whether they are more loyal to Christ than to their TV gurus. 
    This is a very timely article, Dr Oddie.  One might hope that it reaches a wider audience, but I doubt it.
     

  • jng

    If one accepts that the EU is under the control of an anti-religious oligarchy, their attitude towards Turkey is more comprehensible.  “Anti-religious” in European minds is anti-Christian, and modern Islam is anti-Christian, certainly in countries where the majority of citizens are followers of Islam.  So, there is a certain empathy there.  The irony is that, while Islam is not a cultural threat to Christianity, indeed the opposite is probably the case, it might well be to the philosophically shaky secularism of a Western World, which looks increasingly like a scopion in a circle of fire stinging itself to death.
    Even our morally purblind administrators, with their dictatorial application of selected rights, the basis of which they do not seem to understand, must at least have an inkling that their pretence of respect for those rights will be blown sky high if they admit a Turkey, with its current policies, into their decision making.
    Yet, increasingly, it seems to be the case that the only hope of putting our society on a firmer foundation is that Christianity wins the moral argument and Governments reflect this in their laws:  not much of a hope  at the moment as the voice of The Church is either stifled or distorted and many Catholics are so lukewarm that it is difficult to know whether they are more loyal to Christ than to their TV gurus. 
    This is a very timely article, Dr Oddie.  One might hope that it reaches a wider audience, but I doubt it.
     

  • SPQRatae

    Odd that you put the focus on the EU when the number one cheerleader of Turkish accession to the EU – bar none – is the UK. There are many many EU states that, while feeling unable to say this out loud, will see Turkey join over their dead bodies. 
    But it’s so much easier to attack everyone’s favourite whipping boy than to look at uncomfortable truths closer to home…

  • Tito Edwards

    Ediritligil,

    Such a nasty response.

    Another example of anti-Christian hate.

  • MarylandBill

    Most Americans alas don’t know this.  It kind of goes hand in hand with a general ignorance of most Americans to all things international.  An international news story has to be really big before the news networks really pay attention to it, and of course for the most part, the American News media ignores persecution of Christians, whether it be in Turkey, China or any other country.

  • Grace

    Andy,

    You seem to think information and knowledge about Turkish flouting of human rights is inflammatory while most people would say it is the Turkish flouting of human rights that is inflammatory.

    Another aspect is what the Turkish army does in the part of Cyprus which it occupies. The ethnic Christian Orthodox were cleansed out, the tiny handful of elderly people who remain are subject to collective punishments and constant harrassment. Last Christmas Day all of the services were stopped and/or prevented. NO Christmas services were allowed. The majority of churches in northern occupied Cyprus have been desecrated, vandalised, and destroyed.

  • Grace

    “No such things” as Turkish Catholics?  Of course there are. Don’t you remember in June 2011 a Catholic bishop was murdered in Iskendurun by a Muslim Turk, and 4 years before that a Catholic priest was murdered in Turkey? Catholics in Turkey do keep a low profile– for obvious reasons.

  • Deesis

    What do you think Islam will do to the atheists and secularists in the EU? The EU is simply and stupdily sowing the seeds of their own destruction. Imagine if the words “Nazi”, or “Fascists”, “Communist” or “wife abusers” and “polygamists” were used instead of Islam. The ethical system of Islam is repugnant to athiests and Christians alike. Europe will become like Turkey. Remember Turkey itself resulted from immigration and invasion by the Moslem Turks.

  • Deesis

    What do you think Islam will do to the atheists and secularists in the EU? The EU is simply and stupdily sowing the seeds of their own destruction. Imagine if the words “Nazi”, or “Fascists”, “Communist” or “wife abusers” and “polygamists” were used instead of Islam. The ethical system of Islam is repugnant to athiests and Christians alike. Europe will become like Turkey. Remember Turkey itself resulted from immigration and invasion by the Moslem Turks.

  • Chrisbk84

    I am sorry but this article is biased. I am in Turkey, own a home in Turkey and wish the west gave as much religious tolerance to their minorities as Turkey does. Do you know that in Athens, for example, there is not one mosque despite its significant muslim population. That is just one example. With regards to the comments by Carl, I believe those Turks got their status in the U.S. through a political asylum application. And they have to claim that they were abused etc. When Turkey abuses someone, unlike the U.S. there is no immunity for politicians, they can sue in the local courts and if they lose go to the European Court of Human Rights and get compensation. Every year Turkey (like Russia, Italy and Greece) pay millions of euros in compensation. Dont look at the criticism of Turkey through a narrow lense — lets look at our own backyard here in the UK and in the US where the building of a mosque anywhere stirs immediate outrage even though we criticize them for purportedly not letting our christians do as they wish. As I stated, this article is biased. 

  • Chris

    Catholics in Turkey do not need to keep any low profile. Muslims anywhere in the West do. Do you know that the U.S. just executed a white supremacist for shooting (and killing) 4 people shortly after 9/11 just because he thought that they were muslim? Have you not read of what Breivik has done in Norway? BTW one of his victims was a young Turkish woman. These type of comments are hate-filled, inaccurate and simply divorced from reality. Turkey has 23 million visitors a year – how many are killed? Have you heard of the English Defence League or the Tea Party in Turkey? They dont have such parties or such a Breivik view of the world. They have their own foreign policies and unlike us in Europe aren’t trying to blame all their problems on immigrants or outsiders. We as Europeans criticize Turkey for its fault yet we forget that the Napoleonic wars which killed millions was caused by Christians, World War I was caused by Christians, World War II was caused by Christians, and we stood by while the Serbs were killing the Bosnians until the last minute. When will our Christian, “we are better then them” mantra end? When will we as Christians realize some of our shared common ground (i.e. the Bible mentions Muhammed as a Prophet) yet some Catholics and Protestants call him names even though he is referred to in the Bible. We edit and consume only what we like and call the Muslims barbaric when the Bible, like the Quran, both condemn adultry (and sanction it with death), abortion, and homosexuality. Instead, what we as Christians do is whitewash what we dont like in the Bible and then demonize the muslims when, in fact, both the Old Testament and the Qu’ran tell a common story and advocate common themes. I wish the rise of the Breivik Class of supporters would stop. It is disgusting…

  • Chrisbk84

    The EU cannot guarantee the rights of its minorities in its own states why do you expect a guarantee from Turkey? Again, why should Turkey make guarantees when France, Germany, etc. make no guarantees on anything and held accountable through the Commission, Council or the ECJ. For example, when France expelled Romas in France (who happen to be EU citizens), the Council intervened. That is how problems are solved in the EU. Not through guarantees. BTW since we are on this topic, when will the EU start guaranteeing to treat our muslims the same as we expect them to treat us? Or, are they suppose to act first since we are so much better them. 

  • Chrisbk84

    Also the figures about the drop in Greek population in Turkey (dropping to a mere 3 to 4 thousand) are such a horrible disfigurement of the facts its a crime to even publish it. After the Greeks invaded Turkey and were defeated, they requested and obtained as a part of the settlement, a population exchange. In essence, they forced to leave 1 million Turks from Turkey and Turkey expelled all of the Greeks. This was done consensually by both countries as a part of the Treaty which ended the war. But I guess because the author of this article doesn’t like history or likes telling lies to their readers this is completely acceptable. As a note, do you know that 33% of the Greek Island of Crete until 1878 was Turkish/Muslim. Do you know what happened to them? When the Greeks revolted the local archbishop publicly advocated the hanging, burning and raping of Turks. By 1914 there were less than 500 Turks in Crete, which by then was fully “Grecofied.” Did the West protect their rights? Since we are on this topic, when Plevna was being besieged by the Russians in 1878 and then massacred over 10 thousand of its Turkish inhabitants when the City fell did the West condemn it? No. We in Europe had the Congress of Berlin, which cut up the Ottoman Empire’s European Territories. Bosnia went to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia became independent. Not one tear was shed or article written about the deaths of those human beings. There were public lynchings, disgusting acts of barbarism done by some of these states? Our European brothers who preach to Turks about human rights. Finally, how did Europe become so Breivikesque and forget the horrors it inflicted on the Jews not less than 66 years ago? This article is truly barbaric with a one sided set of facts. Its skewed research and writing style is what breeds people like the Norweigan crazy man – Breivik to murder innocent people. An outright disgrace and shame on those who  support these views on this forum. 

  • Chrisbk84

    Correction After the Greeks invaded Turkey and were defeated, they requested and obtained as a part of the settlement, a population exchange. In essence, they forced to leave 1 million Turks to leave from Greece and Turkey expelled all of the Greeks. This was done consensually by both countries as a part of the Treaty which ended the war. And it occurred again in the 1950s (not as a result of war but mutual agreement)

  • Nat_ons

    I suspect you confuse repression with persecution. Certainly Greece have tended to repress Islam, and Turkish expression of this, as it tends to do with Old Rome’s Catholicism, and Macedonianism etc, i.e. non-Greek-ism. The Turks certainly repress any expression of non-pro-Turkish leanings; so much so few ‘Turks’ today would have much idea how little of their ethic background holds in common with the Turks (much as the English wrought in Britain .. ‘British’ once being for many only a broader term for English).

    Persecution need not be so poisonous to the observable body politic as repression; the Penal Laws were a persecution but also repressive in the English domains – a Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people is repressive but need not involve persecution.

    The Turks persecution of Christians, whether Greek, Latin, Armenian or Protestant is unlike the repression of Kurds – in much the same way that the English persecution of non-conforming Protestants was not like the repressive persecution of the Irish or Scottish Catholics. It was, nonetheless, every bit as oppressive, biting and at times even hostile .. if not so aggressively pursued in public (the US would not be what it became without this oppressive but not repressive persecution among Protestants in the English domain). Confiscation of church lands, penal exclusions, spying; these are the kinds of persecution that do not make headline news or confront one in the street as repression – they are no less real, harassing and oppressive to those who must work under them as rules of life = as with the Oecumenical Patriarch of New Rome, Constantinople. .. or indeed the Armenians of Istanbul and the Latins spread thin. 

    One can hope the Turks might take an Italian turn and reintegrate Constantinople into daily life, perhaps as mirror Vatican – an independent micro-state. This is highly unlikely, since Rome attracted vast numbers of pilgrims to the holy sites, and to the Pope .. so the revenue to the people and kudos to the Italian state far outweighed any political enmity. The Oecumenical Patriarchy has rather the worst of all worlds, an ‘alien’ in culture and origin, a marginal and powerless position without state support, and only an influence with foreign (even hostile) powers.

    Christians must pray, long, hard and energetically for His All Holiness Bartholomew I and the Oecumenical mission among the Eastern Rite basilian Orthodox at Istanbul and throughout the world, also for the Turks, not least their rulers; persecutions by the state, even if petty-minded and shallow, can harm the state and its people as much as those they seek to punish.

  • Chrisbk84

    The English persecution of Protestants included beheadings, hangings, and quartering (cutting into 4 pieces). I am sorry to say this to you but Constantinople was 558 years ago a religious center. Today it is no different than New York. Its going to stay a metropolitan business center its not going to go back to being a religious center. The Orthox Archbishop in Turkey has not only recently been granted Turkish citizenship but so have 18 others of the church have been granted citizenship so the Church can have continuity. That is the extent of Turkish assistance. Persecution does not mean bending over backgrounds, transforming cities, or the like. Christians, muslims and jews live side by side in Turkey generally without problems. A Christian can build a Church, a jew can build a synagogue and same for muslims. Everyone can pray to their holy priest, imam, or rabbi but its not the State’s place to change cities. There is a strict divison of Church and state in Turkey so much so that even pious muslims cannot wear their own religious garb when entering public buildings (and this has been upheld by the European Court of Human Rights). So since I have disproved and refuted your argument, I ask the same question again, why should Turkey go out of its way to nurture and span Christianity in Istanbul when there is not one mosque in all of Athens, Greece and no permits have been granted. In fact, the number of visas (of any type) granted to muslim Turks to Greece is barbarically low even though Greece has an obligation under the Ankara Agreement of 1963 and the protocol of 1970. Again, why are you asking so much of Turkey, more than what the European Court of Human Rights requires when Greece and the rest of the EU publicly demonize, attack and place a different standard on Turkey. There are so many references to this or that Christian being hurt by some local nut case on this board yet no one mentions the Turks in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Holland who have been (in some cases) subject to police brutality, attacked by the local conservatives etc. Why is it that in Christianity we must endeavour to create another holocaust every century? Are the Muslims the next set of Jews? You say the Greeks must pray etc. Yes, all religions pray, so do muslim Turks (also long and energetically) and they dont ask that Athens or any city in the Balkans which they use to rule be transformed. Under European Human Rights, the fact that they have a church and no Govt official interferes with their right to attend mass, etc. is considered sufficient. Whereas, for Turks in Europe they cannot even get a mosque and they are forced to congregate in each other’s homes every friday for their prayers. Why can you not see a double standard here….you want Istanbul to be transformed into the Vatican when it has been 558 years in Turkish control, and when Greece doesn’t even allow the building of one single mosque, fails to acknowledge the murder of thousands of Turks in Cyprus or its ethnic cleansing (if you deny these you can read the articles by googling Greek Massacres or purchase a copy of Lord Kinross’ “Ottoman Centuries” from Amazon both cite extensively and document how 33% of the island of Crete was muslim and subsequently exterminated)…..Cheers

  • ms catholic state

    Actually……Muslims are treated better in Europe than Christian are!  The whole political elite including the EU are falling over themselves to accommodate Muslims….while repressing Christianity.  If this wasn’t the case…..then there wouldn’t be so much Muslim immigration to Europe!  How many Catholic priests etc have been murdered in Turkey…..and have they had any justice?!  Christians fear for their lives in Muslim nations and are treated as dhimmis ie second class citizens.  Shame Shame!

    So don’t distort the facts……

  • Enoch

     Turkey is home the beast, the anti-Christ. Christians should fight these demonic forces coming out of this country spiritually.

  • Enoch

    That doesn’t change the fact Turks build the anti-Christ. Now is thier and their muslim apologetics’ time to be louder than ther rest — that is the spirit of the beast — but their complete destruction is very near.

  • Enoch

     How is that possible to like Turks and Turkey if you believe the thing you wrote: “treatment of Christians is a disgrace and unworthy of them”. By visiting this country and paying some amount of money, you are probably contributing to the advancement of their Jihad. Tourists should boycott Turkey!

  • Enoch2

    You’re write! Europeans and Americans still believe in racial ideologies, they think there is a Caucasian race to protect from the Asian superpower, China. That’s why these nations are appeasing and helping the muslim “Caucasians”. Please try to read the Book of Daniel. The Prophet Daniel speaks clearily about the coming alliance between those who abondoned their Christian faith (Europeans and Arab Muslims)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1759820099 Ruby Akhtar

    http://www.gopetition.com/petition/43947/sign.html

    No to EU!
    united Nation don’t care and don’t want to hear the truth!

    RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE IN PAKISTAN

    A conference organized by Ms. Ana Maria Gomes,

    Member of European Parliament,

    in European Paliament, Brussels

    On 9th February 2011-02-14

    The Key Topics:

    1)The persecuted christians and Minorities:Brutalities pronounced under Sharia law,Minorities are counted as nothing when comes to islam:Their faith or nothing else.

    2)Vengence taken on innocent women by raping them and often covering it up with murder.

    3)Young girls aged between 8 to 18 are targetted as a matter of hatred.

    4)One of their clever scheme is to make these minorities homeless by burning their little huts and confiscating their little belongings.

    5)Politicians and Religious leaders(from Pope,Bishops,and clergies)have absolutely ignored it and thus become the cause of it.

    6)Politicians have enjoyed their foreign trips and make a very shallow investigations on their part and return back to give us false informations(when nothing is done for these minorities).

    Religious intolerance is a major issue in Pakistan since decades. The rise of Fanatic Islamic extremism and intolerant treatment towards religious minorities has been a very serious issue in Pakistan. The liberal Muslims of Pakistan, though they are in majority, have been kept quite at the helm of terror and gun. The simple fact that is shocking is the behavior of the Judiciary in all this. NOT A SINGLE TERRORIST HAS BEEN SENTENCED IN ANY CASE BY ANY COURT INCLUDING THE SUPREME COURT OF PAKISTAN.

    Such high profile cases like the kidnaper and murderer of Daniel Pearl, the journalist killed in Pakistan has a 5 star treatment in jails, his case is still going on after so many years. On the other hand, DOZENS OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SENTENCED TO DEATH BY THE VERY SAME COURTS UNDER THE BLASPHEMY LAW.

    Anyone who dares to speak against this injustice, no matter if he is Governor of the largest province of Pakistan, is killed by his own government provided Police Commando. This happened to Salman Taseer the Governor of Punjab, largest province of Pakistan, was gunned down by his own bodyguard in Islamabad. At the time of the assassination, Governor Taseer had been shopping at a market in Islamabad, when he was sprayed with over two dozen bullets, he died at the scene.

    Mumtaz Qadri, the guard who killed Governor Taseer, was a Commando of Punjab Police Elite Force. There were also some other commandos on the duty of securing the Governor of Punjab but Qadri fired 27 bullets on Governor Taseer and none of other guards bothered to fire on him to save the Governor. Qadri was arrested unhurt and he said that he killed the Governor because Governor opposed the Islamic Blasphemy law of Pakistan. The later investigation revealed that Qadri had already informed the other commandos of his action and had requested them to arrest him alive. He had an Islamic beard and he was a very extremist in his views.

    When the guard shot Taseer at close range in Islamabad on Tuesday, he silenced one of Pakistan’s strongest and most strident voices confronting Islamic extremism in a strategic country that seems to be at war with itself. It is rare for a Pakistani politician to publicly and frequently take on the religious right and Islamists linked to armed militant groups. But what brought wrath down on him was his championing of the cause of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for allegedly insulting Islam’s prophet, and proposing liberalizing the blasphemy law adopted during the regime of President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s.

    Asia Bibi is not an isolated case. There are so many cases under blasphemy law in Pakistan, mostly end up in death sentence by courts but none have been hanged, all of them are killed extra judicially in custody, by jail officials in some cases, and by other prisoners in most cases.

    In today’s Pakistan, extremism has taken place in common man’s life. The shock is not murder of Governor Taseer but it was the heroic welcome of the murderer. The murderer is being named Hero of Islam. A man, who killed Governor in front of dozens of people, is being termed a Hero. Blogs and facebook pages are full of hailing this act of barbarism by common Pakistanis, no matter which part of the world they live. When the murderer was brought to court, hundreds of lawyers in court threw flowers on Qadri, the murderer of Governor Taseer. Many came forward to kiss his hand. They chanted slogans to liberate the murderer. This makes me afraid. Its not that the extremists are in majority. It is that the majority, who are liberal, are silent, they cannot speak or they will be silenced, like the Governor of Punjab was.

    The European Union had taken serious notice of the murder of Salman Taseer and had passed a resolution in the European parliament on 18th January 2011, a follow up of a previous resolution on human rights and democracy in Pakistan and especially the one of 20 May 2010 on religious freedom in Pakistan.

    Therefore, Ana Maria Gomes decided to hold a conference to have a debate, dialogue on the issue. The participants of the conference were from different walks of life.

    Speakers:

    1. Ms. Ana Gomes MEP, Member, E.P. Foreign Affairs Committee.

    2. Prof. Joel Kotek, Professor, ULB, Brussels.

    3. Ms. Ruby Akhtar, Member of the UKIP – United Kingdom Independence Party, U.K. and Head of the EDL English Defence League Pakistani Christians Division

    4. Mr. Sheikh Majid, Vice Chairman, Pak Belge Social Organisation and co-ordinator, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Belgium.

    There were many observer participants, who contributed in discussion during the conference. Ana Gomes MEP started the conference by introducing the agenda of the meeting. She highlighted the issue of Islamic extremism and situation of religious minorities in Pakistan.

    Professor Kotek in his speech drew historical parallel with the rise and fall of religious extremists in Europe in the near past and then the State getting separated from the hold of Church and this is a solution for the Muslim world also. Strong rooted democracy is necessary in Muslim majority countries.

    Ms. Ruby Aktar spoke about the miserable situation of Pakistani minorities and said that even a governor is not safe after speaking in favour of the minorities. She quoted some serious violations of human rights of Pakistani religious minorities. Some are as follows:

    - Several clerics have issued fatwas against former Pakistani minister Sherry Rehman and declared her an infidel for calling for changes in the blasphemy law, prompting civil society activists to register a complaint with police in the port city of Karachi today.

    - 2 Christian women were beaten and publically humiliated by an angry mob over apparently frivolous blasphemy allegations and they and their family are now in hiding for fear of being killed.

    - A Muslim, who confessed to sexually assaulting five Christian girls, raped a 6th Christian girl in Punjab province last month.

    - Asia Bibi, a mother, accused and sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan under blasphemy law.

    - Last year, Magda, a Christian nurse was gang raped by Muslim doctors in a hospital and thrown out of the window. She survived but waiting without hope for justice.

    - A Christian locality was set on fire in Punjab province of Pakistan, many Christians were burnt alive.

    Mr. Sheikh Majid said that the rise of Islamic extremism in Pakistan is alarming and he is very much worried with the current development of civil society in Pakistan. He said that Pakistan has paid a very big price for being frontline state in war on terrorism. He said that we have to see in details the reasons of rise in the extremism. He cited the case of Afia Siddiqi and drone attacks on Pakistan also as reasons for the increase in fanaticism and intolerance towards minorities, which, he said should not be an excuse. Minorities should be given equal treatment in Pakistan.

    Some of the other participants of the conference took part in the debate and the conference ended with a vote of thanks toward the chair, Ms. Ana Gomes for holding such a useful debate and urged her to continue providing such platforms for community building issues…

    Ms. Ruby Akhtar has been invited to attend the Geneva conference at the end of this month, where she will be discussing further issues regarding Shariah and Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan.

    See the video in Urdu here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEslyRSkims&feature=player_embedded#at=45

    Sorry folks, I do not have the English version yet.

    Posted by EDL English Defence League Jewish Division at 11:04 AM

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    4 comments:

    Anonymous said…

    This is truly a fantastic and historic day!! Well done to Ruby and all the others for standing up to these savages. They are on borrowed time! NO SURRENDER EVER!!!

    February 14, 2011 11:29 AM

    Anonymous said…

    Ms.Gomes’verdict on the BRUSSELS meeting

  • Adrian Johnson

    Excuse me, where in the Bible does it say that Mohammed is a prophet ????   Islam says that whoever calls Jesus Christ the Son of God is a blasphemer “as God has no son.”  So what shared ground does Christianity have with Islam?  one thing only — the belief that the Virgin Mary is the highest woman in heaven (though Islam holds that Mohamed has the highest place, above Mary’s Divine Son.  I have read both the Bible and the Koran (in English) and it is obvious to me you haven’t.   

  • Adrian Johnson

    Excuse me, where in the Bible does it say that Mohammed is a prophet ????   Islam says that whoever calls Jesus Christ the Son of God is a blasphemer “as God has no son.”  So what shared ground does Christianity have with Islam?  one thing only — the belief that the Virgin Mary is the highest woman in heaven (though Islam holds that Mohamed has the highest place, above Mary’s Divine Son.  I have read both the Bible and the Koran (in English) and it is obvious to me you haven’t.   

  • Adrian Johnson

    Excuse me, where in the Bible does it say that Mohammed is a prophet ????   Islam says that whoever calls Jesus Christ the Son of God is a blasphemer “as God has no son.”  So what shared ground does Christianity have with Islam?  one thing only — the belief that the Virgin Mary is the highest woman in heaven (though Islam holds that Mohamed has the highest place, above Mary’s Divine Son.  I have read both the Bible and the Koran (in English) and it is obvious to me you haven’t.   

  • Adrian Johnson

    Excuse me Enoch, I am an American now living the UK.  I assure you that only a small lunatic fringe in the USA “Believe in racial ideologies, etc.” The Americans as a group don’t pay as much attention to World news as they should –most are ignorant of the EU and how it works–but they are not as simplistic as your posting suggests you are.  

  • Adrian Johnson

    True,  I speak as an American married to a Brit, and now living in the UK.  

  • Adrian Johnson

    Don’t forget implications to homosexuals.  Under Sharia law, they must be stoned.  The EU doesn’t seem to take on that Muslims are outbreeding Europeans and in a couple generations can and probably will bloodlessly take over government in legal elections, and speedily change the currently liberal laws so that sodomy is again illegal and punishable.  Under Sharia, that means stoning to death.  

  • Adrian Johnson

    The problem is that Turkey as a Muslim country (although having a secularist government) is judged in the same category as the Arabic states of the Middle East who do not allow Christian churches at all.  Sorry, but countries as well as individuals are judged by the company they keep. . .. And who’s to say Turkey will always have a secularist govenrnment ? 

  • Anonymous

    I am a British Kurd born and raised in London. Though Kurdish my parents are from Turkey. Turkey may seem Democratic but I can guarantee you it has no shred of democracy. The Christians, Catholics, Jews, Kurds and alevis (a liberal denomination of Islam) are attacked on daily bases. Churches have been burnt down and those who are from a Christian background are physically attacked. My family had to immigrate to London because we are Alevi Kurds. Our views are different to those to those of Sunni Turkish Muslims (who make make 95% of the population in Turkey) and because of this thousands of our people have been victims of various genocides in turkey. Even in 2011 there are no changes; people in turkey are still murdered because of their beliefs. Those Turks who are in the UK are predominantly Kurdish alevis who are from turkey and can speak Turkish hence are mistaken to be Turkish. If turkey is accepted into the EU London will be flooded with Turkish Sunnis and their primitive era thinking. Islam is a predominate element of turkey it may seem as if they are secular but that is not the case. Elections are fixed, people still disappear from their homes in the middle of the night, media is censored, you cannot get a job if you’re not a Turkish Sunni, and you cannot pass your exams if you’re not a Turkish Sunni. In terms of human rights, oh please I cannot even imagine Turkey with Human rights. Children at the age of 10 are being forced to marry 60 old men, women are still killed by their husbands, and non-virgin girls are murdered for degrading the honour of the family. Please, before you argue that turkey has a westerner culture go and do some research. I wish that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (creator of the republic, who tried to westernise turkey) lived a little longer.

  • Habib_begtas

    I am an assyrian from turkey (hakkari), our village was burned down to the ground 20 years ago and we where forced to leave our homeland where we was living peaceful for thousand of years. Many of us where killed, buth we dont give up faith, they only made us stronger by forcing us to leave and go to europe, america and australia. here we have human rights and we can reorganize and become stronger then we ever been

  • Egiritligil

    Amen!

  • Paul F. Sabadin

    Wow! The ignorance and uninformed
    ranting is quite thick here. A brief lesson in history, Chris, as it
    appears you have not been educated nor have you educated yourself in
    the truths of the past. I would suggest you open your mind a bit and
    look at the world a bit more objectively.

    Chris’ Lesson 1: Hitler was NOT a
    Christian. I think most American first graders would get that one
    right. As much as you would like, alas, you cannot blame Christianity
    for Hitler. Antichrist, maybe, as the fruits he bore were the
    antitheses of Christian teaching.

    Chris’ Lesson 2: Because an ethnic
    group or member of a religion engages in war or immoral behaviour,
    the offense does not transfer from that individual to the group of
    which they are a member (or vice versa). Otherwise, we would still be
    executing children for the sins of their parents. Your thinking along
    these lines is positively medieval (but does still exist in some
    pockets of some cultures, typically not Christian).

    Chris’ Lesson 3: The term “Jihad,”
    in fact, overwhelmingly carries connotations of a physical Islamic religious war; that is, jihad is a
    religious war. You speak as though you are ignorant of this common
    fact. The symmetric Christian term, from medieval times, is
    “Crusade.” However, there has been no overt use of this term to
    self-characterize any military action by any modern political group,
    though some contemporary, high profile, individuals have used this
    latter term in ignorance (Bush II).

    Since your knowledge seems to be rather
    meager, Chris, as to the primary recorded sources of history, here is
    a broader lesson that, if you care to inform yourself and study, may imbue you with some credibility and allow you to converse intelligently in more educated
    circles rather than parroting the uninformed words of the modern,
    pseudo-enlightened, automatons.

    Chris’ Lesson 4: A very abridged
    history of the Middle-East and EuropeIt is a fact that in 330
    BC the Roman emperor Constantine founded the city of Constantinoplis
    (Constantinople) at the Greek (not Turkish) colony of Byzantium. The
    primary administration of the Roman empire was relocated to
    Constantinople. All of Anatolia (modern day Turkey) and the entire
    middle-east then, in fact, was or was becoming Christian. For over
    one-thousand three-hundred years, the largest church in the world,
    Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”), was a beacon of enlightenment to the
    world. Almost all of Christian philosophy and theology was launched
    from Constantinople into Europe, beginning the process of civilizing
    what were primarily northern tribal cultures. In 988 AD, Vladimir,
    Prince of Kiev, sent emissaries to various countries to learn about
    their religions so as to adopt a state religion for his kingdom. The
    emissaries were awestruck by the civilization and grandeur of
    Constantine’s city and adopted Orthodoxy as their state religion …
    not by “the sword,” but by free acceptance of and
    acknowledgment of a transforming theology have most Russian lands
    since been Christian. Of course, Rome, itself, became Christian, as
    did essentially all of the rest of Europe.In the 630′s (AD)
    the patriarchal Islamic caliphate (Rashidun), propagated that faith
    “by the sword” into the entirely Byzantine Christian areas
    of Egypt and the Middle-East, and continued to violently spread their
    faith in all directions of the compass. This, of course, gave rise to
    “The Crusades,” the action of which many ignorant moderns
    parrot as being originated by the west, but was simply an attempt to
    defend and retake the lands of their history and ancestors.
    Fast-forward about 550 years and Kublai Khan and the nomadic
    Turkic tribes of the eastern steppe had (in this rare case) chosen
    Islam, when, in the13 and 1400′s, the latter continued rain down the
    Islamic will upon the Middle-East, conquering and, yes, converting
    “by the sword”, Christian lands including the lands
    administered out of Constantinople: the Byzantine Empire.
    (“Byzantine” is actually an academically made-up term. They
    knew of, and called themselves, only “Romans.”).In
    1453, the 1100 year old Greco-Roman city of Christian light,
    Constantinople, was besieged by “the sword” of Islam, in
    the hands of the Ottoman Turks, and died a most pitiful and sad death
    at the hands of the conquerors.That day, the Hagia Sophia,
    built by the love and sweat of a people in a tribute to the Christian
    God of love, tolerance, and kindness, was too beautiful in the eyes
    of the conquerors to be destroyed. Instead,  it was immediately
    usurped to serve “the religion of the sword.” For these
    last 559 of its 1652 years, minarets have obscured the original
    architecture of the ancient church; all of the ancient frescoes,
    iconography, and art were painted over as the wonder was converted to
    a mosque. You probably did not know that the beautiful building that
    you recognize as the symbol seen in modern post-cards of that great
    city of Constantinople (Istanbul), in that increasingly non-Christian
    place, is, in fact a Christian (Orthodox/Catholic) church!Many
    fleeing intellectuals, artisans, and merchants from this epicenter of
    enlightenment filtered back into the great cultural centers of the
    west (particularly Venice), bringing with them the ancient histories,
    books, and knowledge of Christian Greco-Rome to Europe. This is
    attributed by many to be the spark that caught the European
    renaissance on fire! During the renaissance, the university at Padua
    (near Venice) was considered the greatest university in Europe.

    Only after the Hagia Sophia had
    stood in Constantinople for 1300 years was its size and grandeur
    finally eclipsed by the construction of the larger Saint Peter’s
    Basilica, in Rome (1655).It is the ancestors of this great
    Christian Byzantine civilization who could not flee and stayed behind
    after the fall of Constantinople who witnessed their homes taken,
    their public art defaced, their churches besmirched, and their
    espoused ideals of Christian tolerance and love, have “the
    sword” put to its neck. It is the pitiful vestige of the noble founding people of western civilization that your vocal ignorance
    feebly attempts to marginalize. They deserve, almost more
    than any, the dignity of being allowed to practice their nearly
    extinct culture and religion of their choice while still enjoying
    full and undiscriminating citizenship in the now Islamic
    Byzantium.Chris. You might enjoy a summer home in
    Afghanistan. It’s not for me nor for most educated westerners.

    Please don’t tread on the graves of
    your parents and ancestors as you make your way to your Shangri-La.
    And if you are injured on your journey and must be admitted at
    Saint-”Something” hospital, I suggest you ponder at least some of
    the world-transforming institutions, borne of noble, Christian,
    aspirations, as they care for your ungrateful person.

    Maybe then you will understand that
    all, even the people of your despised own culture, deserve global
    dignity and the right of undiscriminating religious self
    determination. Rise to a master greater than yourself and generously acknowledge their noble histories and grant them their natural endowment of humanity, dignity, and unencumbered religious freedom.

    Lesson over, Chris. You may now return
    to the playground and continue your name-calling and preoccupation of hate for Christians and Western culture.

    on the
    playground.