Catholic Priest Attacked and Stabbed

Country: Turkey

Date of incident: December 17, 2007

A Catholic priest was hospitalized Sunday after being stabbed, the latest in a string of attacks on Christians in Turkey. Police said they had detained the suspected attacker.

The assault on Italian priest Adriano Franchini adds to concerns of whether the predominantly Muslim country, bidding for European Union membership, can protect its Christian community. According to Italian consul Simon Carta, Franchini was stabbed after Sunday Mass at St. Anthony's church in the port city of Izmir. The priest is responsible for the Capucine order in Turkey as well as the Church of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus. Fortunately, Franchini was conscious when taken to the hospital and remains stable, as his wounds were not life threatening.

News reports say that the attacker was a 19-year-old male traveling to Izmir from his hometown of Balikesir. Anatolia has reported that the assailant met with Franchini after Mass to discuss conversion Christianity, but suddenly became furious and stabbed Franchini in the stomach. This is just one case in a number of similar attacks over the past two years.

Respecting the religious freedom of non-Muslims is essential to Turkey's hopes of joining the European Union. Laws against Christians repairing their churches have been relaxed and school textbooks are being purged of an anti-Western bias. This may not be enough to reverse years of violence and discrimination of Christians that has been engrained in Muslim education and culture, however.


("Economist," December 19, 2007)