Written by ICC
June 18, 2008
Turkish Pastor Facing Jail on False Charges
Growing Trend Targeting Christians Contradicts Turkey’s Moderate Image
The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) www.persecution.org has just learned that a pastor in Samsun, Turkey has been falsely charged with three serious crimes and has been required to appear at an urgent trial.
Pastor Orhan PiÃ§aklar found a notice at his church from the public prosecutor on Sunday, June 15, notifying him that he was a suspect in a court case and requiring him to come immediately to give testimony.
He did so, and when he arrived at the public prosecutor’s office, he discovered that the accusation against him had been hand-written and included a false identity number. He then asked the prosecutor why he had opened a case on this basis, and the prosecutor said, “Because there are crazy people around.” This vague remark probably means that the prosecutor is trying to save his own skin from Muslim radicals who would target him if he was seen to be “soft” on Christians.
Apparently the anonymous accuser had also taken pictures of activities at PiÃ§aklar’s church with a hidden camera. The pictures were of a baptism and a wedding blessing ceremony. The charges against him, which are serious crimes in Turkey, were:
1. Insulting the prophet of Islam, Mohammed
2. Insulting the police
3. Performing a marriage ceremony in the church
PiÃ§aklar denies all three charges, stating that he has never insulted anyone because the New Testament commands Christians to respect all people. In addition, he says that he had not performed a marriage ceremony, and that the pictures were of a celebration and blessing of a couple who were already married.
He could receive jail time for these charges, but does not know how much time the prosecutor is asking for him to serve. PiÃ§aklar said, “I am not afraid as for the Lord in everything I can do everything. But please pray for my family because they will be in desperate straits if anything happens to me. I believe the Lord will not allow them to be left alone. Because the Lord here is daily growing His church, Satan is restless and creating problems.”
Please pray for Pastor PiÃ§aklar and his church, that God would move the prosecutor to drop this case. In addition, please call your Turkish embassy and let them know that you are concerned about the rights of minorities in Turkey. Please ask them to have this case against Pastor PiÃ§aklar dropped.