ISTANBUL (Armenpress)–A Catholic priest was stabbed Sunday at a church in western Turkey, in the latest attack on a Christian in the predominantly Muslim country, news reports said.
Turkish police say Italian priest Adriano Franchini was stabbed in the stomach after leaving a church service in the city of Izmir. They say he was taken to a hospital, but his wounds were not life threatening.
Turkey’s Anatolia news agency said police detained a 19-year-old man on suspicion of attacking the priest. The motive for the stabbing was not immediately known.
Anatolia said the suspected assailant had traveled to Izmir from a town in the north, Balikesir, claiming to be interested in Christianity.
It says Franchini had invited the man to observe mass at the church and spoke with him about converting to Christianity.
There have been a number of similar attacks over the past two years. In February 2006, at a time of widespread anger in the Islamic world over the publication in European newspapers of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, a 16-year-old boy shot and killed a priest as he prayed in a church in the city of Trabzon.
After that murder a Catholic priest was attacked in Izmir and another was stabbed in the Black Sea port of Samsun.
In November this year an Assyrian cleric was abducted in southeast Turkey and rescued by security forces.
In April three Christians were killed at a publishing house that produces Bibles. Last week Turkey began an investigation into alleged collusion between police officers and at least one of the suspects charged in the killings. The three victims, a German and two Turks who had converted to Christianity, were tied up and had their throats slit.
In January, prominent Armenian journalist and human rights activist Hrant Dink was gunned down in front of his newspaper office in Istanbul by a 17 year old from Trabzon.
The European Union has long complained that Turkey, an EU applicant, is not fully protecting the religious freedoms of its Christian minority, which makes up less than one percent of the population.