A Protestant pastor in the Turkish industrial city of Izmit woke up one morning last month to find a huge red swastika painted on his apartment door, with a handwritten hate letter shoved underneath.
The writer threatened the safety of Wolfgang Hade and his family unless they left the country within a month. A German citizen, Hade is married to a Turkish national of Christian background. The letter questioned whether Hade was really serving Christianity or being "used" to attack Turkish values.
"Your efforts to wear us downas the inheritors of a great raceand alienate us from our values will come to nothing," the writer declared. "Please forward this to the headquarters directing you."
Together with his wife and small daughter, Hade has lived for the past three and one-half years in Izmit, near the epicenter of western Turkey's disastrous 1999 earthquake. Their small congregation of 15 to 20 Turkish Protestants worship in a two-story building purchased through the foundation of their parent church in Istanbul.
The Izmit Protestant Church was targeted in a violent attack the night after Christmas last year, when someone started a fire next to the outside wall of the building.
"The aim was to burn the church down," Hade told Compass Direct. "There were black signs of burning and the window was partly broken, but the debris had been swept away." On three separate occasions since, church windows have been broken out.
Local police investigated all of these attacks, and the church installed iron burglar-bars to prevent damage to ground-floor windows. But after a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the upper floor on February 6, church leaders made an appointment with the local governor's assistant.
"We sent a petition to the ...1