After Malatya Massacre


Orhan Kemal Cengiz

For a long time I had been expecting that something would happen. I had even warned my clients. Recently intolerance, racism, xenophobia and hatred towards Christians have been on the rise and reached a point that signaled something was going to happen. I had been expecting it, but not on this scale, not in such a brutal way. There had been signs. Christians were beaten, their churches were stoned and were set on fire and they had been receiving threats everyday. Every single day there was news about the treacherous plans of missionaries in the local and national newspapers and on TV stations. Something was definitely going to happen. And in the end you all know what happened.

Today I would like to share with you the press release that we issued immediately after the incident. Necati Aydın was a client of mine for the last seven years and I know very well what a nice, lovely person he was. As of today the attacks have not stopped as we expected. The press release you will read below was just written in the heat of the event. But when I look at it again I do not find it necessary to change anything in it. I give the full text here because there have been a lot references to this text in a very picky manner. It might be a little emotional but unfortunately it is the true portrait of what is going onin Turkey. Here is the press release we issued:

To the media and general public

A Frightening brutal act, but not surprising!

Turkey was buried yesterday in the darkness of the Middle Ages. For a long period of time the seeds of intolerance, racism and enmity against Christianity have been sown in Turkey. Now those seeds are being harvested one by one. The murder of Father Santoro, Hrant Dink, and the Malatya massacre are in asense connected. It is very possible that after this incident we will listen to the same speeches that we have heard before and face the same old conspiracy theories. The conspiracies that various intelligence organizations are attempting to stir Turkey up will again be discussed. The dark forces that are trying to stop Turkey’s advancement will be addressed. The short-cut logic used will cast the problemwholly on “the others.” After the shock is passed we will listen to the same chorus, the same song of intolerance; they will continue to sing the songs that turn the seeds of hate into a fruitful harvest. Without looking in the mirror, they will pretend the blood that has been spilt has not implicated them. Without feeling, they will continue on in their ways from the place they started.

In Turkey there is a “missionary hunt” going on, just like the witch hunts of the Middle Ages. With undying energy, almost every day, the newspapers and the mediaspread news about the missionaries’ so-called treacherous plans, about how they have bought people. This is a witch-hunt. Just as during the Middle ages people thought to be witches were burned at the stake with someone saying “so and sois a witch” being the only requirement for a person’s death warrant, all it takes today is for someone to be called a “missionary” and all kinds of attacks and insults openly occur. As seen in this incident, these attacks reach even to the level of vicious slaughter. But even after this attack, we wouldn’t be surprised if people came out and shamelessly said that those killed provoked the perpetrators of this crime by “selling snails in a Muslim neighborhood.” We wouldn’t be surprised if the same people, without recognizing that they themselves are the ones provoking society, would try to show those who were massacred are the true provocateurs.

Valued members of the press, Turkey, more than any other time in its history is under a dangerous threat. This threat is Turkey’s rising intolerance and inability to accept others, more than at any time before. The Turkish culture of love and tolerance, created by Yunus and Mevlana (two Turkish philosopher/poets) is now only propagating blind enmity and hatred. Everyone covers his eyes and never asks how this country could create those who butcher other human beings. To discover how this happened, we should not try to get into the mind of the killer to “understand” him, but we should first look at our own faces in the mirror. Those with any conscience need to start by questioning themselves: How do I contribute to this wave of hate and intolerance? That is the question that needs to be asked.

We know this won’t be the last incident. But we hope, with all our hearts, that it ends here. We would hope that Turkey would ask itself what the victims of this massacre, Necati, Uğur and Tilmann, did to deserve this brutal death. After such a tragedy, such a result will be the only comfort for their families and those affected.

With respects, 19/4/07

ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News Friday, April 27, 2007