Italy Declares Turkey ‘Unfit for EU’ After Malatia Slaying

ROME (AFP)–Italy’s opposition today demanded the Government block Turkey’s European Union bid, saying the killing of three Christians at a Bible publishing house proved the country could not control violent Islamists. "Yet another attack against Christian values. Turkey should forget about the European Union," Massimo Polledri, a senator from the anti-immigrant Northern League, said. The three Christians, including a German, were found with their throats slit yesterday at the Zirve publishing house in Malatya, a city in the predominantly Muslim country’s southeast. Alessandra Mussolini, a parliamentarian who is granddaughter of Italy’s wartime dictator, urged Italians to sign her petition to the EU condemning the killings and stating the "refusal of Italian citizens to allow Turkey into the European Union". "After this the question of Turkey’s EU entry cannot be just a bureaucratic decision," she said, also referring to last year’s killing of an Italian missionary priest in Turkey. Ankara began membership talks in October 2005 but the EU has frozen negotiations in eight of the 35 policy areas because of a row over Cyprus. Opinion polls in predominantly Catholic Italy have showed that many people oppose Turkey in the EU because of its Muslim background and human rights record. "The Government must send a clear signal to the Turkish Government – that the violation of religious freedom and human rights are incompatible with any hypothesis of Turkish membership in Europe," said Luca Volonte, from the UDC party. She said Ankara tolerated "Islamist extremists… who see Christians as sacrificial animals whose throats should be slit". Prime Minister Romano Prodi, on a trip to Asia, said the killings "certainly will not help" Turkey’s EU bid but that such incidents should not be allowed to influence "policy regarding long-term horizons". Prodi’s commen’s were met with scorn by opposition parliamentarian Andrea Gibelli, who called them "chilling". The Northern League and the UDC called on the Government to address Parliament next week about its position on Turkey. A wave of nationalism has swept the secular but predominantly Sunni Muslim country over the past year. For many Turkish nationalists, missionaries are enemies of Turkey working to undermine its political and religious institutions.

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