A new video about the martyrdom of three Christian workers at the hands of Islamic activists in Turkey reveals that while the government’s case against the alleged killers continues in turmoil and confusion, the Christian community in the Muslim nation views the tragedy as the will of God.
“Malayta,” available now as the April 18 third anniversary of the deaths approaches, is from Austin Stone Community Church, Voice of the Martyrs and Family Christian Movies. It tells the story of the martyrdom of Necati Aydin, Tilman Geske and Ugur Yuksel. The three, who were working at a Christian publishing house, had agreed to meet with several young Muslim men who expressed interest in the Bible.
Authorities have reported the Muslims first demanded that one of the Christians convert to Islam. When he refused, they pulled knives and tied up, tortured and stabbed the Christians for several hours before their throats were slit.
When the publishing house attack became known, the response of Geske’s widow, Susanne, hit the front pages of the nation’s largest newspapers.
“Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, echoing the words of Christ on the cross in Luke 23.34. The video recounts that after the attack on the three men, she was contacted by news media in Turkey for an interview.
She explains on the video she had no idea what to say until someone told her it would be an opportunity for a Christian testimony.
She agreed, and her subsequent statements were reported in detail across front pages of newspapers nationwide.
Word of her testimony and its impact first had arrived via a letter that was distributed by the Voice of the Martyrs, which works with members of the persecuted Christian church worldwide.
The letter, titled “A Letter to the Global Church from The Protestant Church of Smyrna,” said, “In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne [Geske] has changed lives.”
One columnist wrote of her comment, “She said in one sentence what 1,000 missionaries in 1,000 years could never do.”
Necati Aydin, Tilman Geske and Ugur Yuksel, (L to R) who were martyred by Muslims in Turkey
VOM noted that 2,000 years ago, Smyrna was addressed in Revelation 2:8-11: “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write… ‘Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation 10 days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.’”
Five individuals have been named as suspects in the attack at the offices of the Zirve Publishing Co. in Malatya April 18, 2007. Four were arrested holding knives inside the room where the Christians were killed and a fifth was arrested outside the building where he apparently had jumped from a window. They all carried notes, “We did this for our country. They were attacking our religion.”
All five have made made a multitude of court appearances. The prosecution, according to VOM, seems caught up in legal limbo because the suspects have been linked to an organization that also is accused of trying to overthrow the government.
The video places some of the blame for the attack on government and national media in Turkey, since the government previously had cited Christian missionaries as one of the major “terror” threats to the nation.
The media picked up on the government designation and, although the nation’s constitution technically establishes freedom of religion, portrayed missionaries as powers trying to upset the government.
Turkey, according to a warning from famed PLO terrorist-turned-Christian Walid Shoebat, poses one of the biggest Islamic threats to the world today.
Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin reported Turkey apparently is trying to revive the old Islamic Ottoman Empire that ruled that region of the world for five centuries prior to World War I.
The report said Turkey’s increasing lack of interest in the European Union combined with its efforts to re-establish its influence in Turkic countries of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and its outreaches to Russia, Syria and Iran were cause for concern.
At the time, the shift by Tayyip Recep Erdogan, Turkey’s leader, from West to East was obvious, because Turkey announced it was cutting Israel out of annual military exercises involving NATO forces while it sought out military exercises with Syria.
Shoebat, the grandson of the Muslim Mukhtar of Beit Sahour-Bethlehem and a friend of Haj-Ameen Al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem and notorious friend of Adolf Hitler, said the actions and attitude of Turkey clearly are causing concern.
A Christian pastor from Ismir who appeared on the video said he was being questioned about the deaths in a room where a police poster listed all of the evangelical churches among recognized “terrorist” organizations.
The Turkish media also repeatedly has spread stories about Christians giving Muslims thousands of dollars to convert and accused them of being involved in human trafficking, neither of which is true, Turkish Christians said.
Another witness to the case reported that of 31 files compiled by prosecutors in the deaths of the three Christians, 16 dealt with the Christians, not the suspects.
According to the Voice of the Martyrs, it was only months after the attack that Turkey “took a step back toward a religiously controlled state” when in August 2007 a leader who used to promote political Islam was installed in power.
“Despite government claims and a constitutional guarantee of religious freedom, Christians do not enjoy freedom of religion in many areas. Politicians, police and the growing Islamist movement are hostile to anything Christian. … The media portrays Christians as foreign government agents and spreads rumors that Christians bribe young people with money and sex. The public tends to believe these false accusations,” the organization’s profile of Turkey reveals.
Yet family members of the victims testified on the video that they believe God allowed the attack to happen for a purpose that is higher than they can understand.
According to Compass Direct, authorities in Turkey have been trying this year to wrap up the case of the deadly attack on the three Christians.
Prosecutors have demanded three life sentences without parole for each defendant.
Christian author Max Lucado called “Malatya” “the story of the first martyrs of the modern Turkish church.”
Identified as suspects in the case are Emre Gunaydin, Salih Guumler, Cuma Ozdemir, Hamit Ceker and Abuzer Yildirim.
Christians, who make up less than 1 percent of the population in Turkey, have been subjected to numerous attacks in recent years. In 2006, a Turkish teen shot to death a Roman Catholic priest as he prayed in his church. Two other priests were attacked the same year. Early in 2007 came the death of Armenian Christian editor Hrant Dink.