The murder of Italian Roman Catholic priest Father Andrea Santaro at his church in the Turkish Black Sea city of Trabzon has prompted condemnation from the Turkish government. 60 year old Father Santaro had lived in Turkey for five years. The authorities say he had been threatened in the past for conducting what are described as “missionary activities”.
Christian missionaries have attracted criticism from some Turks, keen to preserve their country’s strong Muslim culture and identity. There have been protests in Turkey in connection with the ongoing dispute over the publication in some European newspapers of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. It is not clear yet if there is any connection with Father Santaro’s murder. Turkish media reports say police are looking for a youth aged around 17 seen fleeing from the Church of Santa Maria.