ISIS suspected of sending threatening letters to Protestant churches in Turkey
by Burcu Çalık
ISTANBULSep 08, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Burcu Çalık
Sep 08, 2015 12:00 am
Protestant churches in Turkey are nowadays recipients of threatening letters sent by email. A barrage of letters threatening clergy and congregation were sent to 100 of the 120 churches in Turkey while some priests disclosed they received death threats via SMS from anonymous numbers.
The content of the letters point to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) though the perpetrators are yet to be found. Members of the Protestant community in Turkey, including converts from Islam, are branded "murtad" (apostate) and "infidel" in the letters, two words commonly found in threat messages issued by ISIS, which declares everyone from Muslims to Christians as its enemies and justify their killing as the letters openly threaten to.
The Association of Protestant Churches said in a statement that the number of threats increased considerably in recent days and the congregation is anxious due to the threats. All messages are sent from the same email address.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Selina Doğan, an Armenian- Turkish from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) said the Protestant churches faced "a systematic threat," noting it was not the first time non-Muslims faced threats in Turkey. "The letters threaten to behead the converts," she said. She called on authorities to investigate the source of the threats. Umut Şahin, the secretary-general of the Union of Turkish Protestant Churches, said threats were coming in every day and brought up the killing of three Protestant Christians in the eastern Turkish province of Malatya. A German pastor and two Turkish converts to Christianity were brutally murdered in Malatya by assailants raiding a Bible publisher in 2007.
ISIS had recently released a video calling on Turkish people to "conquer Istanbul and Turkey from the ones who cooperate with the West" and denounced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Terrorists in the video message urged Turks to join ISIS and fight against the Turkish state that they claimed was ruled by Satan in reference to President Erdoğan and democracy.
ISIS poses a major threat to Turkey as it captured swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, two southern neighbors of the country and Turkey has recently stepped up its crackdown on pro-ISIS groups spreading the militant group's propaganda.