Monday, February 5, 2007

In Memoriam

Following closely on the heels of my tribute on Friday to Hrant Dink, comes a very nice tribute by Rocco over at Whispers, entitled One Year On, to Fr. Andrea Santoro, who was murdered a year ago today in the Turkish Black Sea town of Trabzon. Hrant Dink's murderer, seventeen year-old Ogün Samast, also hails from Trabzon and is believed to be affiliated with the same radical nationalist group as the then sixteen year-old killer of Fr. Santoro.

In recent years, Trabzon has become an important recruiting place for the Turkish ultra-nationalist movement. So, it is important to note that those responsible for these two murders and many other criminal activities that border on terrorism, are not radical Islamists, but radical Turkish nationalists, whose only affiliation with radical Islam is purely opportunistic, not to mention rare. They see in Islam one manifestation of legitimate Turkishness, but by no means the most important one They take their religious cue from a largely made-up pre-Islamic, pre-Christian, Anatolian religion. Put simply, they are fanatical Kemalists, dedicated to the mythical pure Turkish race, a racial theory, like that of the Nazis, based on pseudo-science and which has been the source of turmoil in the modern Republic of Turkey, that involves conflict not only with Christian Armenians and Syriacs, but Muslim Kurds, too. Hence, they are secular in orientation. The closest Western analog are Europe's neo-fascists.

With all that, remember the martyr, Fr. Santoro, today and, as the Holy Father did in his homily at the Shrine of Meryam Ana Evi during his pastoral visit to Turkey, "the 'little flock' of Christ living in [the midst of Turkey], in order to offer a word of encouragement and to manifest the affection of the whole Church."

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