Turkish man assaulted for missionary activities

5th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

The incident, the latest in a string of religiously-motivated attacks in Turkey in recent years, happened on a busy avenue in Istanbul's Kadikoy district, before the eyes of dozens of passers-by.

Istanbul -- A 24-year-old street seller assaulted a man on grounds he was proselytizing Christianity, holding a knife to his throat in downtown Istanbul before surrendering to police, newspapers reported Tuesday.

The incident, the latest in a string of religiously-motivated attacks in Turkey in recent years, happened Monday on a busy avenue in Istanbul's Kadikoy district, before the eyes of dozens of passers-by.

The assailant -- identified as 24-year-old pirate CD vendor Yasin Karasu -- wrapped a Turkish flag around the head of Ismail Aydin, 35, put a knife to his throat and shouted "This is Turkey, you cannot distribute Bibles here," the Haberturk newspaper said.

The stand-off lasted for 20 minutes before the police persuaded the assailant to surrender, according to the Sabah daily.

Karasu later told the police he was angry with Aydin for converting to Christianity and engaging in missionary activities, Sabah said, while the Vatan daily suggested the assailant was mentally disturbed.

Proselytizing is generally viewed with suspicion in Turkey, whose population is predominantly Muslim, with tiny Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian and Jewish communities, concentrated in Istanbul.

An Italian Roman Catholic priest was shot dead in 2006 and three Protestants -- a German missionary and two Turkish converts -- had their throats slit in 2007.

Two Catholic priests have been stabbed and several churches have reported harassment and threats.

The incidents have fuelled fears of rising nationalism and hostility against non-Muslims in Turkey, which is seeking to join the European Union.

AFP/Expatica

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