Persecution of Ex-Muslims (Turkey)

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After Sunday church service, the church leader and convert from Islam is beaten unconscious twice by five Muslims and threatened with a knife to return to Islam[edit]

Five young men attacked and threatened to kill a Protestant church leader in Turkey’s fourth largest city after Sunday worship services January 8.

Kamil Kiroglu, 29, was beaten unconscious twice along the street after leaving his church premises in Adana at about 5 p.m. Wielding a long butcher knife, one of the unidentified attackers threatened to kill him if he refused to deny his Christian faith and return to Islam.

The four Turks involved in the attack appeared to be in their late teens but were led by a foreigner probably 10 years older who claimed to be from Turkmenistan.
. . .
He said one of them shouted, “We don’t want Christians in this country!” Ignoring the church leader’s confused foreign friend, the men chased and caught Kiroglu and began to strike him severely with their fists and feet. “I was trying to protect my face,” Kiroglu said, “but soon I was lying on the ground, covered in blood, and they were still kicking and beating me.”

After briefly losing consciousness, he managed to get to his feet and start running again, but again the attackers caught up with him. “They were trying to force me to deny Jesus,” Kiroglu said. “But each time they asked me to deny Jesus and become a Muslim, I was saying, ‘Jesus is Lord.’ The more I said ‘Jesus is Lord,’ the more they beat me.”

Kiroglu saw in one man’s hands a long butcher knife, which he later learned had been grabbed from a nearby kebap restaurant. Shoving the knife against Kiroglu’s stomach, the attacker said, “I’m asking you again, deny Jesus, or I will kill you now.” “Then I realized there was no way of saving myself,” Kiroglu said. “He was going to kill me.”

Suddenly, the Christian said, he felt two heavy blows, one on his head and the other on his spine, and everything went dark. When he regained consciousness, his attackers were gone and his friend was trying to wake him up.

Kiroglu then went directly to a nearby police station, where officers took him to the hospital for treatment. Although his assailants never stabbed him, doctors put six stitches into his bleeding mouth, and his head and other parts of his body remained swollen and painful for nearly a week after the beatings. His glasses were also shattered during the attack.
Turkey: Convert Christian beaten unconscious
Compass Direct, January 20, 2006

Two Turkish converts to Christianity and a German at a Bible publishing firm tied up and murdered by having their throats slit[edit]

Attackers in eastern Turkey murdered three employees of a Bible publishing company, including one German, on Wednesday.

The victims had their hands and feet tied and their throats slit, reports said. A fourth person escaped by jumping out of a window and is being treated in hospital.

The CNN-Turk news channel reported that six suspects have been detained. It showed bodies being carried out of the building of the Zirve publishing house in the town of Malatya. The company publishes Bibles and other Christian literature.
. . .
Last year a priest was shot dead in the Black Sea province of Trabzon, which coincided with worldwide protests over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Two other priests were also attacked last year.

Earlier this year, Armenian-Turkish editor Hrant Dink was murdered by an ultranationalist, which prompted extra security measures to be taken for writers and journalists. Dink was also from Malatya.
Killed at Bible Publishing Firm
Spiegel, April 18, 2007

Two Christian converts subjected to official harassment. Standing trial for "insulting Turkish identity"[edit]

In a bizarre twist in the criminal prosecution of two Turkish Christians for “insulting Turkish identity,” an administrative district authority in Istanbul has ordered the converts from Islam fined for “illegal collection of funds.”

Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal, on trial for insulting Turkishness under the nation’s notorious Article 301, were summoned to Istanbul’s Beyoglu police headquarters on Sunday morning (July 1) just before church services began at the Taksim Protestant Church, where Tastan is a member.

“Three plainclothes policemen were waiting for me at the church,” Tastan said, “saying I was wanted at the police station.”

With their lawyer out of town, he telephoned Topal, and the two agreed to go along to the police station.

“I thought probably the police were acting on last week’s Interior Ministry decree,” Tastan told Compass, referring to a June 28 directive sent to all the nation’s governors ordering extra security for Turkey’s religious minorities in the wake of rising violence against non-Muslims. “But it turned out to be something entirely different.”
. . .
Former Muslims who converted to Christianity more than a decade ago, Tastan and Topal were arrested for two days last October and then put on trial before the Silivri Criminal Court in late November.

In addition to charges under Article 301’s restrictions on freedom of speech, the two Christians are accused of reviling Islam (Article 216) and secretly compiling files on private citizens for a local Bible course (Article 135).

Student who left Islam and was filmed eating at a Christian summer camp is described on national news as "an evil missionary" intent on "brainwashing" children, parents disown him and tell others that he is dead[edit]

Hakan (not his real name) was disowned by his parents when he converted from Islam to Christianity.

"They said 'go away, you're not our son.' They told people I died in an accident rather than having the shame of their son leaving Islam."

Born and raised in Turkey, he decided to convert to Christianity after moving to university. He knew telling his parents would be a difficult moment even though they're not particularly observant Muslims, and he planned to break the news to them gently.

In the end, events overtook him. Before heading back to Turkey for the holidays, Hakan briefly visited a Christian summer camp where he was filmed eating a bowl of spaghetti.

The first his parents heard of his conversion was when they saw Hakan on the national news being described as "an evil missionary" intent on "brainwashing" Turkish children.

His parents decided they would rather tell people that he was dead than acknowledge he was a Christian. And Hakan, who now lives in the UK, is not alone in this experience.

Iranian refugee is severely beaten and loses another job as co-workers learn of his conversion to Christianity[edit]

Since Iranian native Nasser Ghorbani fled to Turkey seven years ago, he has been unable to keep a job for more than a year – eventually his co-workers would ask why he didn’t come to the mosque on Fridays, and one way or another they’d learn that he was a convert to Christianity. Soon thereafter he would be gone.
. . .

“I’ve always had problems at work in Turkey because I’m a Christian, but never anything like this,” Ghorbani told Compass.
. . .
“The attitude in the entire factory changed toward me,” said Ghorbani, chuckling. “It was like they had agreed to marginalize me. Even our cook started only serving me potatoes, even though she had cooked meat as well. I didn’t say anything.”

In May the truck driver who had helped the Ghorbanis move finally confronted him. “Your country is a Muslim country,” he told him, “and you may have become a Christian, but you are coming to Friday prayers today.”
. . .
After the day’s last delivery and pick-up, the truck driver returned to work. As everyone was getting ready to leave, from the corner of his eye Ghorbani saw the truck driver walking up to him, and felt the blow of his fist on his temple. When he regained consciousness, some co-workers were washing his face in the bathroom.

They told him a little about how he was beaten, put him in a cab with one of their colleagues and sent him home. That evening, his fellowship group was meeting at his home. They had just sat down for dinner when Ghorbani arrived later than usual.

“He walked in, and he was limping because his right side hurt,” said an Iranian friend who was at the meeting. “There was dirt all over his clothes, and there was blood in his left eye. When I saw him I got scared. I thought that maybe a car had hit him.”

Wanting to avoid a hospital visit and questions from police, Ghorbani went to a private doctor a few days later. The doctor instructed him to stay home for three weeks to recover from the injuries: badly bruised ribs, shoulder, shins and eye, and internal stomach bleeding.

Christian convert has his head draped with the national flag and held hostage at knifepoint. Muslim threatens to slit the throat of the “missionary dog” in broad daylight[edit]

In a bizarre show of Turkish nationalism, a young Muslim here took a Christian Turk at knife point, draped his head with the national flag and threatened to slit the throat of the “missionary dog” in broad daylight earlier this week.

Yasin Karasu, 24, held İsmail Aydın, 35, hostage for less than half an hour on Monday (Aug. 3) in a busy district on the Asian side of Istanbul in front of passersby and police who promptly came to the scene. “This is Turkey, and you can’t hand out gospels,” he yelled, according to the daily newspaper Haberturk.
. . .
“You missionary dogs, do you see this flag?” he said, commanding Aydin to wave the flag. “This is a holy flag washed in the blood of our fathers.”

Aydin said he told Karasu, “Yasin, in any case this flag is mine as well! I’m a Turk too, but I’m a Christian.” Karasu insisted that Aydin was not a Turk because he had betrayed the Turkish flag and country by his evangelism, according to Aydin.
Turkish Christian Held Hostage at Knife Point
Compass Direct, August 6, 2009

Iranian convert seeking asylum is attacked for his beliefs, employer refuses to pay his wages, tells him he has no rights, and then he and several other employees brutally beat him before spilling hot water all over his body[edit]

[In Iran] People with different beliefs, especially Christians, were subjected to arrest, imprisonment, threat and torture. The string of executions of outstanding Iranian Christian figures and pastors is a prime example of that. The laws are even being tightened more and more as time goes by. Such pressures and threats as well as heavy sentences cause Christian converts with an Islamic background to flee their homeland and seek refuge through the UNHCR office in Ankara. However, interviewers and decision makers at the UNHCR fail to understand their grievous situations and often turn down their asylum appeals.

Yousef Fallah Ranjbar is one of these asylum seekers who is currently awaiting a decision on his case in Turkey. Like other asylum seekers in Turkey, Fallah Ranjbar had to work in order to survive. However he was brutally assaulted by his Turkish employer with hot water and his body was severely burned.
. . .
"I had to continuously work 14 hours per day for a maximum of 20 Turkish Liras in the worst conditions i.e. cold winters and hot summers. I am a barber and my hands were not prepared for such hard labour. However, I had to work as labourer in buildings moving 50 KG bags of cement as much as a full container and work in restaurants, etc."

The extreme religious views of his Turkish employer resulted in Ranjbar's rights being violated. After Ranjbar asked for his pay several times, his employer emphatically told him that he had no rights and that he would not pay him any money. Ranjbar said "Then the employer and several other workers attacked and beat me before spilling hot water all over my body." After Ranjbar was burned, he went directly to the police station to file a complaint and bring the guilty one to justice. However the trial was postponed to another time because the employer didn't appear for the hearing. After months of waiting the case is still pending.

Ranjbar is just one example of hundreds of Iranian Christian asylum seekers who are living in such situations in Turkey. Unfortunately, the lack of adequate knowledge by some UNHCR officials regarding the seriousness of such situations, especially in religious cases, as well as the unresponsiveness of related organizations regarding the special situation of Christian converts in a country like Turkey, are just some of the problems that asylums seekers are suffering from.

11-year-old convert spat on, bullied, attacked, and threatened with death by Muslim classmates. Regularly beaten, with permission from principal, by teacher with a 2-foot rod because he wouldn't say the Islamic Shahadah[edit]

The 11-year-old [former Muslim named Hussein] publicly professed his Christian faith in Turkey by wearing a silver cross necklace in school.

"It's not the physical cross. It's the meaning of the cross that is important. It is a beautiful thing," he explained. "I wanted people to ask me about it and then I could tell them about Christ."
. . .
His Muslim classmates taunted Hussein in school. They spat on him and called him names. He often suffered attacks similar to the one against Khoury.

Hussein threatened to report one of the bullies to the principal.

"The boy grabbed me by the arm, squeezed my hand, and yelled, 'I'm going to shoot you if you tell about this!'" Hussein said.

Hakeem described what happened when he confronted the bully's father.

"I thought the father would be concerned about his son's action. But instead, he called me names, threatened me, and said he would shoot me himself if I pursued action against his son," he said.

Some of the worst beatings endured by the boy didn't come from his classmates.

"Hussein refused to attend school, so I asked him if he was still getting beat up by those boys. He said, 'No, by my religion teacher,'" Hakeem told CBN News.

Like in most Islamic countries, students of all faiths are required to attend Islamic studies in school. Those who refuse to recite the Koran and Islamic prayers are often beaten by the teacher.

And so it was for Hussein. He said he was punished regularly with a two-foot long rod because he wouldn't say the Islamic Shahada.

"I don't like saying it. It isn't in my heart. It is just meaningless words to me," Hussein said.

Hakeem went to the school and asked why his Christian son was beaten for refusing to recite Muslim prayers.

"The religion teacher said it was allowed. That the principal and parents agreed that he should do this," Hakeem recalled.

The teacher's beatings, the bullying, and the assaults from classmates took a toll on young Hussein.

Stressed and traumatized, he started to experience grand mal seizures. He now takes medicine to treat the condition.
Ex-Muslim Boy Clings to Faith Despite Beatings
Gary Lane, CBN News, February 5, 2012