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November 14, 2006

Priest Murder During Cartoon Protests A Mistake, Says Convicted Youth At Trial

Testimony was released earlier today in the case of a 16-year-old Turkish youth that shot and killed Roman Catholic Priest Father Andrea Santoro at the height of tensions caused by protests and political manuevering due to the publication of Muhammed caricatures in a newspaper in Denmark. Apparently, the youth testified that he wished only to scare the priest by shooting a Jesus icon on the wall behind him while he prayed.
"I meant to shout 'Allah-u Aqbar' (Allah is Great) and frighten the priest by shooting the Jesus icon on the wall. The priest was praying at that moment. I closed my eyes with my hand and fired the gun with my other hand. When I realised that I shot the priest, I was shocked, and I asked myself 'Did I kill the man?' and felt deep regret," said the boy according to an excerpt of his testimony published by the daily Sabah.

The court did not find this or other evidence convincing, and found him guilty last month and sentenced him to 18 years and ten months. The boys' parents are appealing.

As the article notes, no direct links were found between the cartoon protests and the murder. Even if the only connection was in the timing, the news that a priest had been shot by a Muslim youth was one of the stories that definitely gave last February's more directly cartoon-related political efforts and public protesting an even more terrifying end-of-the-world vibe than they might have had otherwise, and I think had an influence on the tenor of press coverage for several days there.
posted 3:26 am PST | Permalink

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