Turkey long has been allied with the U.S., seen as a bulwark against both the Soviet Union and radical Islam. However, ties have been fraying in recent years for a number of reasons. The Turkish public has turned hostile to Washington and Americans cannot even count on the friendship of secular nationalists.
Particularly disturbing is evidence tying the so-called “deep state,” long viewed as a threat to democratic governance, especially by the moderately Islamic ruling party, to the 2007 murder of three Christians, a German and two Turkish converts. The crime was grotesquely brutal and cruel, yet public officials have seemed almost as willing to criticize the victims as the murderers. According to Christianity Today:
In April 2007, five young men tortured and killed two Turkish converts and a German Christian at a Christian publishing house in the southeastern city of Malatya. When the resulting trial began in January 2008, the court and the Turkish public regarded it as a straightforward case of overzealous nationalists killing missionaries, whose activity was widely regarded as a national threat.
But in recent months, lawyers have tied the case to a more serious national threat. Prosecutors have expanded their investigation beyond the five assailants to local officials. The murders are now seen as a plot by the “deep state” group Ergenekon, a cabal of generals, politicians, and other prominent figures accused of trying to overthrow the government. Ergenekon is already accused of plotting a national coup and killing several people, including a Catholic priest.
“From the very beginning, it was clear that some other people were involved with this, because in Turkey you cannot do something on this scale without being noticed by state agents,” said Orhan Kemal Cengiz, the lead prosecuting attorney for the Malatya case. He invited lawyers from across Turkey working on Ergenekon-linked murder cases to form “a common eye” on the Malatya murders.
Turkish politics long has had a vicious authoritarian edge. Be careful what you say about the military and don’t ever think about criticizing Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. But aiding and abetting murder? If the allegations are true, it turns out there isn’t a lot of moral difference between Islamic radicals and nationalist secularist radicals in Turkey.
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