A former Turkish priest who had been working with foreign missionaries and then converted to Islam was actually an intelligence officer with the Turkish Land Forces, a Turkish daily has reported, but he has denied acting as a "provocateur."
According to a headline story "Provocateur Specialist Sergeant" published in the daily Bugün on June 11, İlker Çınar, who became famous after publishing a book in 2005 titled "Ben Bir Misyonerdim, Şifre Çözüldü" (I was a Missionary, The Code is Broken), is registered as a "special sergeant" in the Pension Fund's (Emekli Sandığı) records.
"Records from the Emekli Sandığı Mersin regional office show that Çınar had been registered on Aug. 16, 1992 as a 'special sergeant' with the record number of 706661XX and his premiums have been paid regularly," stated the daily.
The story indicated that the Emekli Sandığı office confirmed that Çınar is a member of the Turkish Land Forces. The Emekli Sandığı is only for public personnel and individuals who cannot pay their own premiums.
Speaking to Hilal TV, Çınar denied that he was a "provocateur" and said he was only reporting on missionary activities in Turkey: "I am a Muslim, I have been revealing missionary activities in Turkey. I haven't done anything illegal."
Çınar had claimed in 2005 that international missionary institutions had allocated $73 billion for Turkey and that the missionaries in Turkey produced 15 million Bibles and distributed them for free. He also said there were 40,000 church-homes in Turkey, while claiming that foreigners were engaging in illegal missionary activities in Turkey, that they supported Kurdish and Alevi separatism and that they were involved in smuggling of some historical artifacts.
Çınar, who had been a priest in Tarsus and traveled around Turkey for missionary activities, had later devoted himself to anti-missionary work and had spoken extensively about his claims on live Turkish TV talk shows, receiving wide coverage in the media, especially in 2005 after his book came out. Çınar supported the idea that the missionary activities of foreigners in Turkey have been dividing the country and that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has been contributing to the same goal by passing legislation to harmonize with the standards of the European Union.
Press consultant for the Association of the Turkish Protestant Churches İsa Karataş said they were not concerned about Çınar's statements as long as such statements do not put forward slanderous information about their community.
"If he is really an informant, this is not a big surprise to us. We know that our churches have been closely watched, we are not complaining about this. We want the state to know what we are really doing but we want such informants -- if there are any -- to report the truth to whatever organization they are working for," Karata? said in a written statement to Today's Zaman.
The Bugün article draws attention to the fact that murders of Christian priests followed Çınar's allegations.
Italian priest Andrea Santoro was killed by a teenager on Feb. 5, 2006, in his church in the northern Black Sea port city of Trabzon. The teenage perpetrator, O.A., said he was influenced by the debates on television concerning missionary activities in Turkey.
Records that came to light in February as part of another murder case have shown that the priest was under police surveillance when the murder occurred. The piece of information that the priest was actually being monitored by the police was revealed by records that went into the file of Yasin Hayal, whose trial is pending, with the latter being charged as the prime inciter of the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007. Dink was shot dead outside his office in January of 2007 by an ultra-nationalist teenager, who is also from Trabzon.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Haziran 2008, 10:26