Two Turkish Christians arrested March 1 while selling and distributing Christian literature near the southern port city of Izmir were refused bail, pending a court hearing scheduled for March 30. Ercan Sengul, 38, and Necati Aydin, 28, were taken into custody late on the afternoon of March 1 by gendarme officers in Kemalpasa, a town on the eastern edge of Izmir. Both men are employees of the Kaya Publishing Company, registered in Turkey as an official book distribution company since January 1996. Charges pressed against the two men by state prosecutor Mustafa Caymaz accused them of forcing people to accept Bibles and of insulting Islam. Based on identical complaints made by three local residents of Kemalpasa, the allegations were said to have violated articles 64 and 175 of the Turkish Penal Code forbidding derogatory statements against another religion.Both Sengul and Aydin are baptized Turkish converts to Christianity who had changed their religious identity from Muslim to Christian on their permanent identity papers.According to Istanbul attorney Suleyman Dirin, lawyer for Kaya Publishing, the refusal by Judge Levent Akcali to release his clients on bail was "a very prejudiced decision.""Unfortunately," Dirin told Compass, "in Turkey some people are mixing politics and religion."In a report submitted to the prosecutor's office March 7, local Muslim Mufti Omer Solgu declared that he had been requested to examine the books, tapes and videos confiscated from the two prisoners.Although the Islamic cleric admitted he found nothing objectionable against Islam in the materials, Solgu devoted five paragraphs to an analysis of some sermon notes jotted in Aydin's personal notebook regarding the meaning of "Allah," "Jehovah," and ...1
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