Skip to comments.Scholar Undermines Proselytizing In Turkey (Christian Missionaries in the Middle East)
Posted on 02/21/2004 4:49:58 PM PST by Land_of_Lincoln_John
ISTANBUIL, February 21 (IslamOnline.net) - The growing wave of Christian missions in Turkey has a marginal impact and should be confronted through better understanding of Islam and improved economic conditions, a Turkish theology professor said.
In an interview with IslamOnline.net, Hidayat Aydar said proselytizing attempts are noticeably growing in the predominantly Muslim country as well as the entire Middle East.
Only people with complete ignorance of Islam could be lured by the promises of better economic conditions made by missionaries, he said.
A report aired by Channel 7 on January 13 indicated that a group of 50 to 60 people converted to Christianity in the eastern governorate of Dyarbakir.
A Turkish weekly reported on February 2 that northern part of Turkey, which is overlooking the Black Sea and mainly peopled by non-Turkish ethnicities, is a breeding ground for missionaries operating under the disguise of social, cultural, educational and humanitarian services.
Aydar said missionaries have also made promises for those ethnic groups to help achieve their independence dreams, a possible reference to Kurds.
The Turkish parliament turned down a U.S. and E.U. requests in November last year to reopen an Orthodox religious school, that was closed more than 40 years ago.
Reports that 39 new churches have been built in Istanbul in the last five years had made headlines.
There are 20,000 Christians in the country and a similar number of Jews.
Aydar also downplayed proselytizing attempts worldwide, asserting that on the contrary more Christians are embracing Islam.
The number of Muslims has already jumped from 12 per cent of the worlds overall population in 1900 to 29 per cent in 2000.
Putting up confidence missionaries would end in failure, the Istanbul university professor said that awareness campaigns should be further intensified.
Aydar reiterated opposition to banning missionaries in the country, making clear that laws could not deter those groups who operate through radio and television networks and newspapers.
He said the law issued by the government in 1981 against proselytizing did nothing to stem the flood of missionaries.
Aydar warned that more laws could even trigger a backlash, including a similar ban on the work of Muslim groups spreading Islam in European countries.
Lawmaker Atilla Basogolu, of the opposition Republican Party, had called on the government to take a more serious approach towards these activities, warning that the country could face a similar situation to that in the Korean peninsula where 56 per cent embraced Christianity in the last few decades.
Ali Bdac Oglo, the head of the religious affairs authority, accused influential international organizations of sponsoring the missionaries.
Altin Tonsh, a key researcher in religious affairs, said proselytizing groups exploit Turkeys E.U. membership bid.
As 39 churches have been built in Istanbul alone during the last five years, the missionaries seek to revive the ancient Christian Bontos State that had existed along the Black Sea coast in the 11th Century, Tonish has said.
A report presented to the Turkish government said Christian missionaries were sent to areas hit by the 1999 shuddering earthquake that left hundreds dead and many others displaced.
Muslim leaders have repeatedly warned that non-Muslim organizations normally exploiting crises, wars and tragedies in their proselytizing efforts.
Since the U.S. and British forces reportedly olled into Baghdad (my comment: Huh?) on April 9, more than 100 Christian missionaries entered the Arab Muslim country.
Shrouded in secrecy and under the guise of humanitarian aid, American missionaries, mainly evangelicals, are pouring into the predominantly Muslim Iraq, Daily Telegraph reported on December 27.
A Christian missionary was killed and three others injured in an ambush on their car near Baghdad on Sunday, February 15.
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