Vandalism at Turkish Protestant church stirs fears of repeat bloodshed

The breaking of a window at a Protestant church in Malatya, where three people were murdered in an attack on a Christian publishing house in 2007, has led to renewed fears among the local Christian community.

Vedat Serin, a representative of the Salvation Churches Association, told Hürriyet that police had caught the assailant after the vandalism on Friday evening, but that this was the third attack on the church in the last year.

“The police caught the culprit but said he wasn’t in good mental health and that was why he did it,” Serin said.

“We are always seeing this. (The police) always say it was a ‘personal attack’.”

Serin also linked the vandalism to the recent marking of houses belonging to the Alevi Muslim minority in the city.

“The marking of houses belonging to Alevis two days ago shows that they are trying to create a perception in this city. We are only five minutes away from Cemal Gürsel neighbourhood where the Alevis live,” he said.

A group of five men raided the Zirve publishing house in Malatya in 2007 and slit the throats of three Christians, one German and two Turkish.

The trial over the case, however, became shrouded in political intrigue, as the case was judged to be a conspiracy masterminded by Turkey’s deep state and merged with other trials. The five men were given life sentences, while two military officers said to have encouraged the crime were given long sentences as well.

The man believed to have been the leader of the gang told the court, “I am thankful that I did not shame my country or cause any embarrassment.”