Attackers Critically Injure Turkish Christian
Hospitalized Victim Slips into Coma

by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL, October 31 (Compass) -- A Turkish convert to Christianity who was
severely beaten for distributing New Testaments last week in his hometown of
Orhangazi in northwestern Turkey has slipped into a coma in critical condition.

Yakup Cindilli, 32, was hospitalized on October 23 after a savage attack by
three individuals who inflicted heavy blows on his head and face. Although he
was initially coherent and able to talk with his family, he went into a coma
during his second day in the hospital.

According to doctors attending him at the Bursa State Hospital, Cindilli's coma
has resulted from a blood clot that formed in his brain from his injuries.

Local police have identified and apprehended three suspects in the crime, all
jailed by order of the public prosecutor reviewing the case. No date has been
set for a hearing on the expected criminal charges against the accused.

Both Cindilli and a colleague identified in local Turkish newspapers as Tufan
Orhan were reportedly distributing New Testaments at the time of the attack.
One news headline declared, "Two Youths Beaten for Doing Missionary Work." Both
were left semi-conscious in an open lot in Orhangazi after their attackers
fled.

According to an October 26 account in the national Milliyet newspaper, Cindilli
and Orhan were beaten for "doing missionary propaganda." One of the suspects,
Metin Yildiran, is president of the local chapter of the Nationalist Movement
Party (MHP), Milliyet reported. The other two men were identified as Huseyin
Bektas and Ibrahim Sekman.

A far-right political party accused of "neo-fascist" activities during Turkey's
violent 1970s, the MHP has historically linked its platform with an
Islamic-tinged version of nationalism.

According to local believers, Cindilli first expressed interest in Christianity
about two years ago when he made a telephone call to "Alo Dua," a prayer
hotline ministry begun by local Protestant Christians after Turkey's
devastating 1999 earthquake.

After reading the New Testament and coming to faith in Christ, Cindilli began
writing poems and songs. "He was a very faithful believer, living by himself
out there," an Alo Dua staff member told Compass. "He went on with the Lord,
and we would talk and pray with him over the phone."

Cindilli occasionally traveled to Bursa, about 30 miles from Orhangazi, to
visit the Protestant fellowship there. His family was opposed to his new faith,
throwing out all his Christian books and warning him that he must give up his
new beliefs.

Earlier this year, Cindilli transferred to Istanbul, where he found a job and
attended the Maltepe Protestant Church for several months. In mid August, he
returned home to Orhangazi, where he began to work on interior construction
jobs.

When Cindilli last visited the pastor of the Bursa Protestant Church about a
month ago, he had asked for some New Testaments for distribution. "I don't know
Yakup very well," the pastor told Compass, "but he is a very courageous man. We
are very upset that this has happened to him, and we are praying that he will
recover."

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