ISTANBUL, Turkey – Assailants on Wednesday slit the throats of three employees of a publishing house that distributes Bibles, the latest in a series of attacks targeting Turkey’s small Christian minority.
The attack added to concerns in Europe about whether the predominantly Muslim country – which is bidding for EU membership – can protect its religious minorities. It also underlined concerns about rising Turkish nationalism and hostility toward non-Muslims.
The three victims – a German and two Turks – were found with their hands and legs bound and their throats slit at the Zirve publishing house in the central city of Malatya.
Police detained four men, ages 19 to 20. A fifth suspect was hospitalized after jumping out a window to try to escape arrest, authorities said. All five were carrying a letter that read: “We five are brothers. We are going to our deaths,” according to the state-run Anatolia news agency.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack and said investigators were looking into whether there were other suspects or possible links with terror groups.
In February 2006, a Turkish teenager shot a Roman Catholic priest to death as he prayed in his church, and two other priests were attacked later that year. A November visit by Pope Benedict XVI was greeted by several nonviolent protests. Earlier this year, a suspected nationalist killed Armenian Christian editor Hrant Dink.