May 3, 2007

The Funeral of a Martyr

Three weeks ago in Turkey, five young Muslims burst into a Christian publishing office, bound three Christians hands and feet to chairs, stabbed them repeatedly, then slit their throats.

"There were so many stab wounds that we couldn't count them," Hurriyet quoted Dr. Murat Ugras as saying. "It was clearly torture."

"We did this for our country," an identical note in the pockets of all five young men read, Channel D television station reported. "They are attacking our religion."

According to the newspaper Hurriyet, one of the suspects declared during police questioning, "We didn't do this for ourselves. We did it for our religion. May this be a lesson to the enemies of religion."

The deaths mark the first known martyrdom of Turkish converts since the founding of the republic.

Two of the victims were Turkish converts from Islam; the third was a German citizen.  Christians make up less than 1% of the Turkey's 71 million people.

Ben Witherington posts
a report by Dr. Mark Wilson of the funeral of one of the martyrs.

Recently Dindy [Mark's wife] and I attended a funeral here in Izmir. I have attended many funerals, but this was my first in Turkey. And it was also the first time I attended the funeral of a martyr. I have been teaching and writing about martyrs and martyrdom for many years. ... But such martyrdoms are personally and historically distant.
On Saturday, April 21, Necati's funeral took place on the grounds of an historic Protestant church in Buca, a suburb of Izmir. Necati had lived and fellowshipped in this city for many years, and was well known and loved. (He had portrayed Jesus in a Passion play in the past.) The sanctuary was too small to contain the crowd of around 500 persons who came from throughout the country to attend. So the service was held outdoors on a balmy spring afternoon.

As we entered the church grounds, people were given a picture of Necati to pin on their clothing. Therefore throughout the crowd Necat'is smiling face radiated forth.

Posted by Jill Fallon at May 3, 2007 8:37 AM | TrackBack | Permalink