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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"I am the Christ eternal"


Those are the words spoken by Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981, when he was released last week from a Turkish Prison.

As a youth, he became a petty criminal and a member of street gangs in his home town. He became a smuggler between Turkey and Bulgaria. He reportedly received two months of training in weaponry and terrorist tactics in Syria as a member of the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine paid for by the Communist Bulgarian government

After serving nineteen years behind bars in a prison in Italy for the attempt on the life of the Pope, he was deported to Turkey, where he served another sentence for the murder of Abdi İpekçi, a left-wing journalist, in 1979.

He was released on January 18, 2010.

Three decades behind bars later and the man sounds every bit as deranged as the young man who was forgiven for attempting to take the life of the Pope.

Although, he is now trying to sell his story so that 'history' will have the 'correct' version of what happened.

Which raises a few questions.

Is this man insane or is he crazy like a fox? Is he mentally unstable or merely acting the part?

Would any amount of time in prison 'rehabilitate' this man, or incarceration strictly for punitive purposes?

Who would pay him for his story and who would buy the book?

What does this teach us about the nature of terrorism and the character of terrorists?

When the Pope visited him in prison and forgave him, and formed a relationship with him, and met with the man's mother at the Vatican, and when Agca converted to Christianity in 2007, what did it accomplish? Did it further embolden Agca's purposes or that of the Pope?

All of these questions are deeply troubling. However, if his book helps to give us some insights into the answers to some of them, maybe, just maybe, it might be a good thing.

Meanwhile, I find myself sitting with the deeper implications of the uncomfortable question posed on the cover of Time Magazine back in 1984:

Why forgive?

2 comments:

David |Dah • veed| said...

Some incarceration is not for rehabilitation, punishment nor revenge, but institutionalization for the protection of the public.

The public may be safer with the later, since he has already murdered one person and attempted to murder another.

susankay said...

I don't know -- I trust that God keeps forgiving -- however foolish it may be. This no-longer-young man -- I assume he and God will work it out.