According to this week-old account, these men “insulted Turkishness” simply by speaking about their faith. Now, isn’t it clear that Turkey is “modern” enough to enter the EU? “Turkey: Christians may appeal fine for ‘illegal’ funds,” from Compass Direct News, March 27:
ISTANBUL, March 27 (Compass Direct News) — Fearing that a court-ordered fine of two Turkish Christians here for “illegal collection of funds” would set a precedent crippling to churches, their lawyer plans to take the case to a European court. Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal each paid the fine of 600 Turkish lira (US$360) to a civil court in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul yesterday. The verdict cannot be appealed within the Turkish legal system, but their lawyer said he is considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
The ruling refers to the men receiving church offerings without official permission from local civil authorities. Nearly all Protestant fellowships in Turkey are registered as associations, with very few having status as a recognized religious body, and strict application of the law would limit the scope of churches collecting funds. Although the punishment is a relatively small fine, their lawyer told Compass there is now a precedent that authorities could use to harass any church for collecting tithes and offerings. “For now, this court decision is an individual decision, but we fear in the future this could be carried out against all churches,” said defense attorney Haydar Polat.