They have been identified as Tilman Ekkehart Geske (46), Necati Aydın (35) and Uğur Yüksel. Their bodies have been recovered at the offices of the bookstore yesterday following
They have been working at a local publishing house functioning also as a bookstore, mainly focusing on religious publications, namely books on Christian teachings.
15 NGO's in Malatya released a joint declaration, condemning the incident. Also a group gathered in Istanbul yesterday afternoon and protested the murder.
Three high profile murders in a year
This is the third ethnically or religiously motivated murder in the country in the past year.
A teenager motivated by "nationalist sensitivities" killed Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in in Black Sea city of Trabzon on February 2006.
In addition to that, Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink was gunned down by an extreme nationalist -again underage- on January 19 in Istanbul.
"Being a missionary" is commonly used as a curse in Turkey and such are targeted and stigmatized.
10 suspects under custody
The founder of the bookstore, Martin de Lange had made a public announcement on February 2005, saying that they received anonymous death threats.
Governor of Malatya, Halil İbrahim Daşöz revealed that 10 people are under custody and interrogated in relation to the murder.
A letter was found on three of the suspects, which read "We're all brothers going to death. Say your prayers for us".
Police raided the İhlas student hostel the suspects resided in. The hostel is believed to be run by Islamist groups and hosts students with such sensitivities.
Media provoked the locals
According to local Malatya Yenigün newspaper, following the establishment of the bookstore in 2000, some local media relayed provocatif pieces about it, saying "Cristianity is spreading in the city, missionary activity is rising".
Such publications targeted the offices of the Kayra bookstore and its owner, German citizen Martin de Lange.
Following wide spread provocation, some extremist and Islamist parties and groups staged protests in front of the bookstore.
de Lange addressed the threats, saying they are working in accordence with the law and such actions aimed at provoking hostilities among societies and peoples.
Germany and EU reaction
The murder provoked international attention. All major European media emitted the news. Foreign Ministry of Germany has immediately condemned the murder.
Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier urged a through investigation into the incident and added that a comissioner to the city to overview the developments.
The Council of Europe also released a note, saying that they are "shocked" by the incident.
General Secretary Terry Davis said: "Reportedly, the attack was religiously motivated because the victims worked in a Christian publishing house. I am horrified by this crime and I feel nothing but contempt for the perpetrators. I am confident that the Turkish authorities will do everything they can to bring the people who committed this murder to justice".(EÜ)
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