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    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Turkey in the EU? Maybe in 200 years

    The Pope has made several comments about Turkey, and the EU.. none of them

    “In the course of history, Turkey has always represented a different continent, in permanent contrast to Europe. Making the two continents identical would be a mistake. It would mean a loss of richness, the disappearance of the culture to the benefit of economics.”

    He openly based his opposition to Turkey’s admission to the European Union on the fact that Turkey is a Muslim country. “Europe has a culture which gives it a common identity. The roots which formed ... this continent are those of Christianity,” he declared.




    The controversy over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad was at a full roar on the Sunday morning that a bullet pierced the Rev. Andrea Santoro's heart, so the 61-year-old Catholic priest was initially counted as a casualty of a moment, an especially volatile one between two faiths talking loudly past each other.


    But among residents of this small city overlooking the Black Sea, another explanation took firm hold in the weeks that followed the Feb. 5 killing near the altar of the only church within a hundred miles. The priest was a missionary, residents whispered to one another, and his death resulted from a dispute over the money Turks have long believed missionaries pay to Muslims they are trying to convert.

    "Everybody says he was paying a lot of youngsters -- college students -- 100 euros per month to convert them,"

    "We have no money," said Bishop Luigi Padovese, vicar apostolic of Anatolia. "I gave Andrea 300 euros a month. If he gave 100 to each person. . . ."

    But if the local version of events appears to have scant grounding in fact, it is anchored in a deep-seated mistrust of Christianity in Turkey, a nominally secular republic that U.S. officials frequently cite as a democratic model for the Muslim world.

    With perhaps 100,000 Christians in a population of 70 million, Turkey officially tolerates and protects faiths other than Islam. Unlike Afghanistan, which last month threatened to execute a Christian convert, the country has no laws barring Muslims from leaving the faith or against attempts to lure them away.

    Yet Turkish police charged 293 people with "missionary activity" from 1998 to 2001, a state minister told parliament recently. People who place calls to Christian groups operating inside Turkey are warned against uttering the word "missionary" on an open phone line.

    "Lots of my friends say 'the M word,' " one receptionist said.
    The tension dates at least to the 13th century, when Christian Crusaders sacked what is today Istanbul.

    "Missionaries and the Crusades are related," Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs declared in a pamphlet published last June. The directorate, which exercises control over all Turkish mosques, distributed a sermon for Friday prayers nationwide a year ago. Imams warned worshipers that missionaries were involved in a plot to "steal the beliefs of our young people and children."

    Yes Turkey, everything is a Christian plot.


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