December 14, 1997
Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
I am writing to express my deep concern regarding your failure to provide any coverage of the bomb attack on the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul that occurred on December 3, 1997. This is the third bombing by Muslim extremists on this institution in as many years and has resulted in significant property damage to the buildings housing the Patriarchate as well as the wounding of a deacon, who remains in critical condition.
As you are aware, the Patriarchate is the seat of Batholomeos I, spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide. It is deeply disturbing that the Times, which presents itself as our nation’s newspaper of record and prides itself on comprehensive international coverage, could choose to ignore an event of this magnitude. Would the Times also ignore a similar attack on the Vatican or a holy site in Jerusalem? Your omission is all the more troubling in light of the coverage given the Patriarch's tour of the U.S., which preceded the attack by days, as there is evidence to suggest that the bombing was perpetrated by Turkish Islamist extremists hoping to intimidate Bartholomeos from just such activities. Is it not newsworthy to document this reaction upon the Patriarch’s return to Istanbul as a telling indicator of the precarious position this seat of one of the world’s great religions finds itself in due to the deadly intolerance Christians have endured in Turkey for centuries?
You have opened a bureau in Istanbul and have stationed a correspondent, Stephen Kinzer, to report daily on events in Turkey; doesn't this sinister act of terror against a world religious leader warrant the same attention as the activities of former pop star Cat Stevens, whom Mr. Kinzer reported on three days after the bombing? The following day, you reported that a homemade bomb exploded outside the home of the Czech Finance Minister, causing no injuries--but still no mention of the bombing of the Patriarchate was made.
Such an absurd imbalance in the Times’ coverage is not only wholly insensitive to the plight of Orthodox Christians but insulting and patently discriminatory--and can only serve to reinforce suspicions that a double standard is being applied by your paper to both Turkey and its victimized Christian minority.
Very truly yours,