Trial tomorrow in Turkey
Many of you, if you keep up with global news regarding Christian persecution, have heard about a recent case in Turkey. Two guys I worked closely with in Istanbul have been arrested and are facing a trial tomorrow that could result in a prison sentence.
Hakan and Turan, both Turkish and Christian, were charged initially with illegal gun possession (a totally false accusation) and now face three charges: 1)Article 301-Putting down the Turkish republic and inciting riot 2) Article 216-Saying bad things about another person’s religion, 3) Article 135-Gathering and using people’s personal information with out their permission.
Hakan and Turan are working along with other Christians in Turkey to send out Bible correspondence information to people who request it. This is not illegal. Being a Christian is not illegal….but these two were targeted by the local community and the government. They are being charged with offenses that are not true and prosecuted under Turkish laws that have received a lot of scrutiny lately as Turkey vies for EU membership.
The outcome of this case could be a very important factor as the EU watches how Turkey treats minorities. These laws don’t just affect Turkish Christians, they affect writers, artists, and other religious minorities in Turkey. In fact, anyone who might say anything that seems to go against the strong nationalism/Islamic heritage of Turkey can be a target. Several people have been arrested under these laws. If you’d like to read more about the political details of the law and how it affects people in Turkey, check out this wikipedia article.
How should we respond? As people who live in a country where there is freedom of speech and freedom of religion, our first response should be gratitude. Not one of us has to be concerned that sharing our faith will land us in prison in the US. Secondly, if you are a follower of Christ, pray for these brothers and their families. They have displayed tremendous faith and are not worried about their situation. In fact, Turan wrote a recent email that said pray he will face these trials as Paul did, with boldness and faith. The outcome of this trial could affect the Church in Turkey and how Christians are treated in places where Christ is not known. May we recognize our responsibility as the Church to be involved, to pray, and stay informed about what’s going on around the globe.