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ICC Note:

“The Ambassador has emphasized to State Minister Aydin serious U.S. concerns about the GOT’s [government of Turkey] anti-Christian missionary campaign, including a written statement by Aydin defining missionaries as a threat to the State and maligning Christianity,” Times.am reports.

Classified by Ambassador Eric S. Edelman

4/16/2011 Turkey (Times.am) – ¶1. (C) Summary: The Ambassador has emphasized to State Minister Aydin serious U.S. concerns about the GOT’s anti-Christian missionary campaign, including a written statement by Aydin defining missionaries as a threat to the State and maligning Christianity. The U.S. has long urged the EU to support Turkey’s candidacy, but it will be difficult to do so while the GOT is campaigning against Christianity. The Ambassador warned that anti-Christian rhetoric could lead to violence, and urged Aydin to speak in support of the rights of Christians in Turkey. In response, Aydin accused missionaries in Turkey of using anti-Islamic rhetoric, and complained that the U.S. media have said “awful things” about Turkey. After the meeting, we learned that a Protestant church building had been attacked in Ankara. End Summary.

Congress Concerned About Anti-Christian Rhetoric

¶2. (U) Calling on Aydin April 21, the Ambassador noted that the U.S., in its support for Turkey’s EU candidacy, has long maintained that the EU should not be a Christian club. President Bush and the U.S. Congress have frequently emphasized their commitment to religious freedom and tolerance among faiths. Now, however, members of Congress are highly concerned about the GOT’s campaign against Christian missionaries. The anti-missionary sermon drafted by the GOT’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) and delivered by imams across the country March 11 (reftel A), as well as Aydin’s own written response to a question from an MP on the “threat” of missionaries (reftel B), depict missionary activity in Turkey as political rather than religious. Both documents imply that missionaries are a threat to the State.

¶3. (C) The GOT’s actions, the Ambassador continued, give the impression that Turkey, whose population is officially 99 per cent Muslim, has no room for Christians. The USG’s 2005 International Religious Freedom Report (IRF), to be released in September, will reflect these negative developments. If these problems are not addressed, the report will be quite critical. Moreover, these developments threaten Turkey’s EU candidacy.

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