April 20, 2012
After a memorial service for three Christians who were murdered in Malatya, Turkey five years ago, an Istanbul pastor who was attacked over Easter weekend said he had experienced hostility from Muslims nearly all his life, Compass Direct News reports. Semir Serkek, 58, said he personally knew the three Turkish converts to Christianity who were brutally murdered by five young men on April 18, 2007. "I looked at their fate with some envy, because they were young and I am old, but they left -- I have gone through many things," Serkek said. "But they were so young, so young." Serkek was alone at Grace Church on April 7 finishing preparations for Easter when four young men knocked on the door, demanded to enter and threatened to kill him if he didn't recite the Islamic testimony of faith. One of them kicked Serkek in the chest, casting him down the entrance steps to the ground. Serkek said he had known verbal abuse since childhood and especially since he began openly sharing his faith 35 years ago, but "this was the first time I was hit, so this was surprising and made me sad." This year, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended that Turkey -- home to about 4,500 Christian converts -- be designated a "Country of Particular Concern" for its long-term and systematic limitations on non-Muslim communities.