A teenage student arrested in Turkey over the killing of a Italian priest has reportedly told police he was influenced by European cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammad cartoons. The 16-year-old is in police custody in Trabzon, the Black Sea city where Fr Andrea Santoro was shot on Sunday. He was allegedly carrying a gun when arrested.
The police have released no other details about the suspect. Father Santoro was hit by several bullets on the steps of his church – he had just finished saying mass. The Turkish government strongly condemned the killing, as have much of the press.
Violent attacks on Christian clergy are rare in Turkey, which views itself as a bridge between mainly Christian Europe and the predominantly Muslim Middle East. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called on Turkey to, in his words, “neutralise fanatics” after the killing of the priest. But he said the murder should not be allowed to affect Ankara’s bid to join the European Union.