Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
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(Compass) – Since the European Union’s (EU) decision last December to begin membership accession talks with Turkey, religious freedom has been on Europe’s short list of major issues for Turkey to resolve. Turkey ’s new reform package of laws put into effect on June 1 states that it is legal to express and promote one’s religious beliefs and meet for worship accordingly. However, both Islamist and nationalist circles in Turkey have launched strident broadsides against what even state officials are calling “dangerous” Christian activities. To these sectors of society, joining the “Christian club” of the EU means risking the loss of their cultural and religious identity. “There’s a reaction against Christianity by Islamists and nationalist groups,” observed Ihsan Ozbek, chairman of the Alliance of Protestant Churches (APC). “The missionary issue is being used by them to spoil the relationship between Turkey and the EU.” Now, Ozbek admitted, “There’s an extreme prejudice against Christianity.”