They are the scapegoats for Turkish elites who are trying to escape from the burdens of our history. Without knowing history, we can never understand how this handful of Protestants turned into enemy No. 1 for state elites in Turkey. Just 3,000 or 4,000 Turkish Protestants have turned into one of the “internal enemies” of the Turkish state. Why? If 25 percent of your population was non-Muslim just 100 years ago and if they were “vaporized” for reasons you no longer remember, anything that reminds you of this past would of course trigger your unconscious fears.
The fear of Protestant missionaries is a kind of phobia that shows us what is hidden in the unconscious side of our neurotic minds in Turkey. Can you imagine, this tiny group has been a constant item on the agenda of the National Security Council (MGK), which is dominated by soldiers who rule one of the biggest and strongest armies of the world? An elephant in fear of an ant is a depressive, deeply neurotic elephant, is it not?
If you really want to understand Turkey, look at the situation of Protestants in Turkey. Recently, I realized that their situation also presents a golden opportunity to have a look at the outside world’s prejudices against Turkey.
On April 18, 2007, three Protestant missionaries were killed in Malatya, in eastern Turkey. This was not an ordinary murder. It was a horrific, barbaric, heinous crime. The victims were killed by slitting their throats after being subjected to torture for hours. As you can imagine, the incident attracted serious attention in both the national and international media. As the lawyer of the victims’ families, I became the contact person for all media interviews. Right from the beginning, I realized that the persons interviewing me wanted to hear a certain story confirming some well-known patterns. Were the murderers fundamentalist Muslims? Did they do this for religious purposes? Did they belong to a Muslim community, and so on. Most of the reporters did not like what I told them. I tried to explain my understanding of the murder. The youngsters who committed the crime and were caught at the crime scene were members of ultra-nationalist groups and had some connection with some “deep state elements” in Turkey. My comments were disappointing for some reporters. They wanted to tell the world that Muslims were slaughtering Christians in Turkey.
Actually, this was exactly what the deep state elements who masterminded this slaughter wanted to tell the world. They wanted to convince the world that as soon as a “pro-Islamic” government came to power in Turkey, “Muslim fundamentalists” started to kill Christians. Before the Protestants, Hrant Dink, an Armenian-Turkish journalist, and a Catholic priest, Father Andrea Santoro, were also killed by exactly the same type of murderer: young ultra-nationalists. When we argue this, some people claim that if it was the “deep state” behind these murders against Christians, then there must have been more murders. Actually, in my opinion this was the original plan of the deep state gang Ergenekon. After the Malatya massacre, the police prevented four other similar attempts against Protestant missionaries in different cities across Turkey. During the Ergenekon investigation, murder plots targeting Armenians and Alevis were also revealed. If the Ergenekon investigation goes deep enough, the gang’s connection with these murders could be established. This is something I have been trying to explain from the very beginning. Ergenekon is modern Turkey’s Committee of Union and Progress, which in the past committed atrocities against Christians in Turkey. Same mentality, same structure.
I wrote all this because, here in New York, while I was trying to find out how the American media covered the Malatya massacre, I felt really angry. Some correspondents, including some of those who interviewed with me, had reported the incident as a textbook example of terrible prejudice. “Young Muslims killed Christians in Turkey.” I watched some videos on the Internet; their interviews with me have been taken out completely.
If Slobodan Milosevic massacred Bosnian Muslims for Christianity, yes than these ultra-nationalist youngsters killed Christians for Islam. Milosevic was an ultra-nationalist butcher exactly like the murderers of the Protestants in Malatya. By distorting these kinds of facts, believe me, you do not do anyone anywhere any good. You do not understand Turkey, you do not help Christians in Turkey and you are just sowing the seeds of discord between cultures and religions. You are just a prisoner of your own prejudices and trying to lock up everyone else there. Please do not do that!