Minority populations in Turkey increasingly find themselves “on the outs” with authorities and society-at-large. Concerning the future of religious freedom in Turkey, “It’s not looking positive,” says Daniel Hoffman, Executive Director of Middle East Concern.
Turkish authorities target foreign Christian leaders, and the world-renowned Hagia Sophia is in the cross-hairs, too.
“As President Erdogan continues to lose support, he is looking to ‘scapegoat’ people for the pressure and the difficulties, especially economically, that Turkey is facing. He’s, among other things, accusing the Christian communities of working ‘behind the scenes’ to damage the economy and the country,” Hoffman continues.
One of the world’s oldest churches, the Hagia Sophia, currently functions as a museum in Istanbul. President Erdogan wants to convert it into a mosque. Turkey’s highest court was supposed to announce its decision a few days ago. Instead, the court delayed until July 17th.
Hoffman says criminals have targeted churches at the local level more than once in recent weeks. More about that here. “When the police arrested the perpetrators, they would say things like, ‘Well, we attack them (Christians) because they are behind the spread of the coronavirus,’ which is nonsense, of course,” Hoffman states.
“It’s probably inspired by some of these media reports that minority communities, including the Christian community, are working together with foreign countries to damage [Turkey].”
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth
CALL TO ACTION
- Under the current regime of President Erdogan, secularism has steadily diminished and the country is accepting a more pronounced Islamic influence. Pray the rights of religious minorities, like Christians, are protected.
- The Turkish government has not generally targeted Christians in particular, but the strong religious nationalism in Turkey leaves almost no space for Christians to proclaim an alternative message. Pray Christians have freedom to share their beliefs.