Friday February 23, 2018

Jews and Christians in Turkey are becoming increasingly fearful because of Islamic extremism

False reports of minority having ties with the coup are being circulated and so Christians and Jews are being targeted.

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Christians, Jews are becoming fearful because of growing extremism. Image Courtesy: Pixabay
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  • Christian and Jews represent about two-tenths of one percent of Turkey’s mostly Muslim population of 79 million
  • People are tagging religious minorities as coup plotters
  • The spread of Islamic State (IS) terror in Turkey in recent months has shaken Christians and Jews

September 28, 2016: Threatened by Islamic extremism, Christian and Jewish groups in Turkey are growing more fearful amid increasing terror attacks and the government’s state of emergency following a failed coup attempt, representatives of the minority communities told VOA.

Christian and Jews represent about two-tenths of one percent of Turkey’s mostly Muslim population of 79 million.But pro-government media outlets, as well as some government officials, have accused them of playing a role in the July coup attempt and have stepped up the rhetoric against Christians and Jews.

At a “Democracy and Martyrs” rally in August, a pro-government, million-strong anti-coup demonstration in Istanbul, three of the speakers linked religious minorities to coup plotters, calling them “seeds of Byzantium, “crusaders,” and a “flock of infidels.”

Christian and Jewish leaders, some of whom denounced the coup attempt, were in attendance at the rally in an attempt to show solidarity with the government. Turkey has been in a state of emergency since the coup attempt and tens of thousands of Turks have been jailed for investigations.

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Scapegoats

Turkish human rights lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz told VOA pro-government media have “embraced an alarming narrative of scapegoating Turkey’s religious minorities and connecting the coup plot to them.”

“Particularly pro-government media outlets have taken an anti-U.S. and anti-EU attitude, which I can call a xenophobic attitude, in which they attempt to demonize the West and accuse it of the coup attempt,” he said. “And this narrative targets and harms non-Muslims in Turkey.”

Scholar Rifat Bali, who has written several books on Turkish Jews, says that even though the report of minority ties to the coup have no foundation, Christians and Jews are being targeted.

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“The nonsensical, so-called news reports that claim that some religious minorities in Turkey are behind the coup attempt are not surprising,” he said. “They are actually quite expected. In an environment where conspiracy theories are commonplace and prevalent, looking for foreigners behind everything becomes normal.”

Historic threats

Christians and Jews, who have been living in parts of what is now Turkey for centuries, have been exposed to violent attacks in Turkey’s history. The 1934 anti-Jewish pogrom in eastern Thrace, and the 1955 anti-Christian pogrom in Istanbul forced tens of thousands of non-Muslims to flee Turkey.

The spread of Islamic State (IS) terror in Turkey in recent months has shaken Christians and Jews.According to news reports, IS cell members have plotted terrors attacks on churches and synagogues in Turkey. IS sees Christianity and Judaism as an enemy to its radical Muslim ideology.

Foreigners, including European Christians and Israeli Jews, have died in terror attacks in Turkey linked to IS.Threats against Christians and churches on social media by Islamist extremists in Turkey have intensified.

“Some people have sent death threats to the mobile phones of 15 pastors,” said Umut Sahin, the secretary-general of the Union of Protestant Churches, an umbrella organization for Protestant denominations in Turkey.

“They used the same terms and arguments as IS in their text messages,” said Sahin, a pastor in Izmir. “They sent the pastor’s propaganda videos of IS.”There are about 10,000 Protestant Christians in Turkey.

Protestant church leader Ihsan Ozbek said some churches have canceled Sunday services because of fears of an IS attack.“This has created deep fear and panic in our community,” he said of continuing terror from IS.

Creating more refugees

Some Turkish Assyrian Christians, whose brethren in Syria have faced killings and kidnappings at the hands of IS, are finding safety abroad.

“The number of Assyrians immigrating to Western countries is also on the rise,” said Erkan Metin, an Assyrian human rights lawyer in Turkey. “Some have left Turkey and many others are preparing for that.”There are about 25,000 Assyrians in Turkey who live mostly in the southeast.

“Many Assyrians from Turkey are also citizens of Western countries,” said Tuma Celik, the Turkey representative of the European Syriac Union (ESU) and the editor-in-chief of the Assyrian monthly newspaper, Sabro.

“Those Assyrians used to spend part of the year in Turkey,” he said. “But as threats of IS are on the rise and the purges of the government are getting increasingly commonplace and violent, many of them have not come to Turkey this year.”But most of Turkey’s 18,000 Jews, who live mainly in Istanbul, are quietly staying put.

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Synagogues have taken tight security measures. British media reports, citing intelligence officials in Turkey, reported in the spring that IS was plotting attacks on Jewish institutions in Turkey.

“There is a continued war environment both inside and outside of Turkey,” said Isil Demirel, an anthropologist from Turkey who writes for the online newspaper Avlaremoz, which covers Jewish-related topics.“And the fact that the war is perpetrated by a group called the ‘Islamic State’ in the name of religion further intensifies the fears and concerns of people about their lives and future,” he said.

Two Turkish synagogues were bombed in 2003 by Islamist terrorists.“So the Jews in Turkey have learned required lessons from these attacks and are doing their best to take precautions to prevent potential ones,” Rifat Bali, a prominent Jewish scholar based in Istanbul, told VOA.

-(VOA)

– prepared by Anubhuti Gupta of Newsgram. Twitter: @anuB_11

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Clerics help Pakistan pedophiles target minor Hindu, Christian girls

In a span of three years, Mian Mithoo reportedly has converted 150 girls to Islam but he insists that all the conversions are voluntary, never forced.

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Mumbai’s  Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India has defended the practice of sexual slavery. Wikimedia Commons
Mumbai’s  Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India has defended the practice of sexual slavery. Wikimedia Commons

By Ahmar Mustikhan

Pakistan pedophiles, who believe having sex with minors enhances their sexual prowess and stamina, routinely abduct minor Hindu and Christian girls, have sex and convert the girls to Islam and marry them, all within 24 hours.

Muslim clerics in the length and breadth of Pakistan aid the culprits while the parents of the victim girls have no avenue to seek justice. The rapidity with which the entire process happens shows the conversions are well orchestrated and enjoy state blessings as the culprits go scot-free.

“Is there any single day empty, when Hindu girl would not be abducted and converted? A 13-year-old girl kidnapped from Shahpur Chaker and got married to 52 year-old-man at Bharchundi Dargha,” said Hindu agriculture engineer Raj Kumar Tuesday in a Facebook post. “Descendants of Mohammed bin Qasim are to this day treating Hindu girls as if they were a war booty,” he quipped on Facebook. Qasim was a young Saudi general from Taif who attacked and defeated ruler of Sindh, Raja Dahir, in the Eighth Century.

Parents of a 13-year-old Hindu who was abducted from Shahpur Chakar and married to a 52-year-old man who already has five kids. Pir Faqeer Andul Khaliq aka Mian Mithoo of Bharchundi Sharif aided the forced conversion
Parents of a 13-year-old Hindu who was abducted from Shahpur Chakar and married to a 52-year-old man who already has five kids. Pir Faqeer Andul Khaliq aka Mian Mithoo of Bharchundi Sharif aided the forced conversion

“Where is Sindh Government and child marriage law?,” asks Dr. Jaipal Chabbria, who hails from Kandhkot town in Sindh and is the leader of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf of former cricketer Imran Khan. “How surprising that a 13 year-old-girl is kidnapped and forcefully married to 52 year-old-person who has already five children. Who will give protection to none Muslims?”

The cleric responsible for the conversion is a former member of the National Assembly and belonged to Pakistan People’s Party when Asif Ali Zardari was president. His name is Pir Faqeer Abdul Khaliq aka Mian Mithoo from Daharki town of district Ghotki, neighboring India’s Rajasthan state.

In a span of three years, Mian Mithoo reportedly has converted 150 girls to Islam but he insists that all the conversions are voluntary, never forced.

Even as Hindus were lamenting the abduction of the 13-year-old girl from Shapur Chaker, another Hindu girl was abducted. “No single day passes without abduction of Hindu girls. One more Sorath, daughter of Heero Meghwar from District Tharparkar has been abducted,” said Hindu rights defender Shankar Meghwar

Asad Chandio, a veteran journalist who has been a leading voice against forced conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh, says Mian Mithoo’s conversion works pale in comparison to an even more dangerous cleric named Pir Ayub Jan Farooqi aka Pir Ayub Jan Sirhandi, who is from Samaro town in Umerkot district.

Also see: Ahmar Mustikhan views on Kulbhushan Yadav’s meeting with his mother and wife

“Farooqi targets Umarkot and Tharparkar, two Sindh districts where even today Hindus form 65 percent of the population. The Hindus there are the poorest among the poor like Bheel, Kohli, and Meghwar,” Chandio, who fled Pakistan after receiving death threats from both religious outfits and Pakistan secret services, said Tuesday from Houston, Texas. “Pir Farooqui has vowed that he will not rest at ease until each and every Hindu in Umarkot and Tharparkar convert to Islam,” he said.

Pir Faqeer Mian Mithoo, aka Abdul Khaliq, a former member of the National Assembly, who once belonged to the Pakistan People’s Party.
Pir Faqeer Mian Mithoo, aka Abdul Khaliq, a former member of the National Assembly, who once belonged to the Pakistan People’s Party.

Pir Farooqui heads the religious seminary called Gulzar-i-Khalil in Samara town where he religiously issues a report card each year on the number of Hindu girls and boys he has converted to Islam.

A report in the New York Times early this year said, 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls, mostly underage, are taken from their families each year, converted to Islam, and married.

The Times report cited Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani of the Pakistan Hindu Council as saying, “So many immature girls, below the age of 18 mostly, have been kidnapped. After 15 days a (certificate of marriage) will be presented in court that the girl has of free will be converted and accepted Islam, and she has now been married.”

In some cases, the matter reaches the court system but the victims are often threatened that if they don’t say they had eloped and converted on their free volition, their entire families will be gunned down. So they tell the judge they converted on their free will. Only in rare cases, does a victim tell the court the truth about their rape.

Sindh journalist Asad Chandio, a leading voice against forced conversions of Hindus, who had to flee Pakistan after receiving death threats from the clerics and Pakistan intelligence services.
Sindh journalist Asad Chandio, a leading voice against forced conversions of Hindus, who had to flee Pakistan after receiving death threats from the clerics and Pakistan intelligence services.

When Pakistan was created by the British Raj, by dividing India, in August 1947, thirteen out of the 53 members of parliament were non-Muslims. Farahnaz Ispahani, a Pakistani scholar and aide to former president Asif Ali Zardari, in a paper titled “Cleansing Pakistan of Minorities”, writes, “At the time of partition in 1947, almost 23 per cent of Pakistan’s population was comprised of non-Muslim citizens.” That population has now gone down to three percent because of the forced conversions and intimidation to non-Muslims.

Hindus have nowhere to go
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in a report said around 25 Hindu girls are converted to Islam each month—many cases never get reported. In most cases, Hindus have no door to knock for justice as Pakistani judges side with the rapist kidnappers. According to Hindu rights activist Shanker Meghwar, under the Child Marriage Restraint Act, the age for the marriage of a girl is fixed at 18 years and any person contracting  a marriage with a girl under the age of 18 commits an offence, but in the case of Hindu girls the law is silent and so are all human rights activists. “Where should the Hindus go?” Meghwar asks in a Facebook posting. “We don’t know which door to knock; we don’t know before who to cry.”

In seldom cases, a court may pass a verdict in favour of the parents, but those orders go unimplemented, Hindu rights in Pakistan say. “Our community can bear looting and the kidnapping of our men, but the abduction of our daughters and wives is too painful,” Bhagwan Das, who holds a National Assembly seat reserved for minorities, told Al Jazeera news. “Unfortunately, the frequency of these crimes is increasing due to religious extremism.”

Christians in Punjab

If minor Hindu girls are targets in Sindh, minor Christian girls are sitting ducks for the Muslim men of Punjab province. “Raping and killing the kafirs is justified in their basic Islamic ideology,” said Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC) chief Bhatti, who lives in Philadelphia. He said Punjab, the stronghold of the army, is one of the most dangerous places in the world for Christians, including their females. He adds more than 99 per cent of rape and forced marriage cases, involving Christian females, go unreported in Pakistan.

In one case of rape and abduction of a 12 year old Christian girl in Lahore, the militant organisation Lashkar-i-Taiba or “Army of the Pure,” whose main target is India, produced a nikahnama or marriage certificate, claiming that the minor girl was married to one of their members, according to the Christian Freedom International. The non-profit Movement for Solidarity and Peace, MSP, says every year between 100 to 700 Christian women, “usually between the ages of 12 and 25 are abducted, converted to Islam, and married to the abductor or third party.”

Dr Nazir Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Congress, says Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries for Christians where forced conversion and rape of Christian girls is taking place with impunity.
Dr Nazir Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Congress, says Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries for Christians where forced conversion and rape of Christian girls is taking place with impunity.

In its investigative report “Forced Marriages & Forced Conversions in the Christian Community of Pakistan” the MSP notes that after abduction, these Christian women are subjected to “sexual violence, rape, forced prostitution, human trafficking and sale, or other domestic abuse” but in court, when asked to testify before the judge, these victims give a statement in favour of their captors out of fear.

PCC’s Bhatti said these hapless girls are threatened that since they have recited the kalima, Muslim declaration of belief in Allah and Muhammad, and embraced Islam now if they dare say they are Christians they will be killed for blasphemy and apostasy.

Islam and sex with minors, sex slaves

Apparently, Pakistan pedophiles have Islamic history on their side. After ISIS fighters overran Yazidi villages in Iraq’s Sinjar region, the USA Today quoted the ISIS as saying, “It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.”

Mumbai’s  Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, defends the practice of sexual slavery. Zakir Naik, who got 135,000-pound sterling reward from Saudi King Salman, explains at the time of the Prophet Muhammad Muslims were allowed to have sex with captured slave girls and women – the spoils of war – without marriage. “There are many verses in the Quran which say that you can have sex with those who are your wives and what your right-hand possesses,” Naik said on his Peace TVexplaining “right-hand possesses” meant girl and women slaves.

Islamic historians admit during Muhammad’s days, there were quite a few wars or jihad that the Prophet personally launched against the Jews and infidels to spread Islam.  For example, in the Battle of Khaybar, a beautiful Jewish teenager named Safiyya bint Huyay, 17, whose husband and father were slaughtered by Muhammad’s army was captured as a sex slave by a Muslim soldier but the Prophet later took her custody and married her. The Prophet then took Safiyya, his newest bride, to Medina on his camelback.

Since marriages and having sex slaves is recognized in the Quran, men in the “fortress of Islam,” Pakistan, apparently have no qualms when it comes to forcibly abducting, raping and “marrying” minor Hindu and Christian girls even though Pakistan law prohibits marriage of any girl under 18.

Mir Salim Sanai, a Sindhi nationalist activist based in Germany, said victims of forced marriages are not limited to under-age non-Muslims but are also common in the case of minor Muslim girls in Sindh. However, in these latter cases, the girls are not abducted and the parents do consent to their child’ marriage.

(The author is a veteran Baloch journalist. He is also the founder and president of the non-profit American Friends of Balochistan)