Turks are “complete hypocritical” when discussing Islam and Christianity as they are constantly angered when disrespect is shown to the former even as they consistently slam the latter, according to a leaked U.S. embassy cable.
People “are trying to steal the faith of our youth and children,” John Kunstadter, then-Secretary of Political affairs at the U.S. Embassy to Ankara, wrote in a March 16, 2005, cable, quoting an anti-missionary sermon read out a mosque five days before the cable was sent.
The cable, titled “Turkish Imams read anti-Missionary sermon,” came to light after it was released by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks’ Turkish partner, daily Taraf.
Kundstadter said the imam preached that Islam was the only valid religion for Allah and that “holy armies” bent on erasing Muslims from history had failed before. The sermon text did not mention missionaries by name but noted that they were the ones that were trying to change the nation’s faith.
Only 500 Turkish Muslims are thought to have converted to Christianity in the past 10 years, yet the supposed threat posed by missionary activity carried the issue all the way to the National Security Council, or MGK, agenda.
Mehmet Görmez, then-deputy head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, told Kundstadter at the time that while missionaries had the right to operate in Turkey, the directorate was determined to “educate” people so that missionaries not benefit from their “ignorance.”
When asked what he thought of Muslims trying to Christians in the West to Islam, Görmez said Muslims migrated to make money, not convert people from Christianity.
Kunstadter called Turks “complete hypocrites” on the grounds mentioned above, noting that the imam’s sermon suggested Christianity was not a monotheistic religion due to its belief in the Holy Trinity.
“Like other religious Turks, Görmez considers converting to Islam a natural progress when he feels a deep hatred toward Muslims who convert to Christianity,” Kundstadter wrote.
The remaining cables from Taraf’s Friday edition indicated that the United States was worried that the alleged hatred preached against Christians and missionaries in Turkey would result in violence. Catholic Priest Andrea Santoro was murdered in Trabzon in 2006, Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was killed in 2007, while three missionaries were brutally murdered in 2007 in Malatya after the cables were penned.
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