By Bekir Coskun
This is a difficult column for me to write. The Malatya murders [see below BBC report on the incident / Azad-Hye] are neither the first nor the last of their type. So maybe someone needs to look back, and ask: "Is it we who are the murderers?"
It is difficult to recall anything said during our school days by our Turkish elders about peace and love. But there's a lot I recall being said about three pointed javelins. And castles made from skulls. We were always told about the Ottoman's state order, and about where the stability and continuation of the Ottomans derived from: the pasha would tie his siblings to the caste vaults, and cut off their heads. These stories were told to us with great pride, and thus we would repeat them in pride to others.......
Pushing aside history for a moment though, we have a culture that believes in letting blood flow, like when we are born, and when we get out first diploma. Even people who get their first driving licenses get told ".....make a sacrifice, at least a rooster if nothing else." And of course, there was always the greatest show of belief, the sacrificing of the lamb in the backyard of the house.
We all know the three men whose throats were cut in Malatya were neither the first, nor will they be the last. Because the children of this society have grown up hearing up the length of swords in schools, seeing the lambs slaughtered in the backyards, and hearing the stories of Ottoman skulls.
No one has ever taught them simply: "First, be human." Just as we saw when the chants of "We are all Armenian" arose after Hrant Dink's funeral, those who have try to cry out "First, be human," have been labeled as "aetheists and traitors" by others. We need to ask ourselves then, is it we ourselves who are the murderers, and not just the handful of youngsters who carried out what they have been taught in this society?
ADDITIONAL READING - 1
Three killed at Turkish publisher
The three victims were found tied up in the office Three people have been killed at a publishing house in Turkey that produced bibles, in an apparent attack on the country's Christian minority. The victims were discovered at the Zirve publishing house in the eastern city of Malatya.
They were bound hand and foot and their throats had been slit, officials said.
Nationalists had protested at the publishing house in the past, accusing it of involvement in missionary activities, local media reported.
There is a rising wave of nationalist feeling in Turkey, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford reports, with Christian minorities complaining of pressure and harassment.
In the most serious incident so far, a Catholic priest was killed last year by a teenage nationalist gunman as he prayed in his church.
The general manager of the publishing house, Hamza Ozant, told local media that his employees had been threatened in recent days.
A number of men had been detained in connection with the attack, local officials said.
Television pictures showed police leading several young men from the building.
One of those killed in the attack was German, the country's ambassador said.
"Even if the exact circumstances of the crime are not yet known, I most strongly condemn this brutal crime," Eckart Cuntz said in a statement.
Malatya is known here as a very nationalistic city, often with an extreme religious undertone, our correspondent adds.
It is the hometown of Mehmet Ali Agca, who in 1981 shot Pope John Paul II.
Turkey's Christian community comprises less than 1% of its population. More than 99% of the Turkish population is Muslim.
Source: BBC, 18 April 2007
ADDITIONAL READING - 2
Accroding to Turkish journalist Taylan Bilgic
("Turkish Daily News
", 21 April 2007) "Malatya is loosely divided among sectarian lines, with the south mainly Alevi and the north mainly Sunni. Alevis are also concentrated at the west and Sunnis in the east. Still, it is not that simple. The Çavuşoğlu district, which was home to around 10,000 Armenians back in the '60s, is in the northwest. Hrant Dink was also raised here, and last year, when he came to attend the Arguvan Folk Songs Festival, took interest in re-opening the Armenian Church there. Now only a handful of Armenian families live in the city".