ICC Note: The status of Christians in Turkey remains extremely challenging. Once lands that were 20% Christian, the current population is just a fraction of 1%. Hundreds of churches and other Christian properties have been confiscated, and even still more churches run the risk of conversion into mosques or other non-Christian buildings.
04/19/2015 Turkey (Gatestone Institute) While Eastern Orthodox Christians recently celebrated their Easter holy week, a historic church in Istanbul — the once magnificent Christian city of Constantinople — is witnessing yet another abuse at the hands of its current authorities.
“The historic Istanbul cathedral and museum, Hagia Sophia, witnessed its first Quran recitation under its roof after 85 years Saturday,” reported the state-run Anatolian News Agency of Turkey. “The Religious Affairs Directorate launched the exhibition “Love of Prophet,” as part of commemorations of the birth of Islamic Prophet Muhammad.”
Even though Christians are a tiny minority in Turkey today, Christianity has a long history in Asia Minor, the birthplace of many Christian Apostles and Saints, including Paul of Tarsus, Timothy, Nicholas of Myra, and Polycarp of Smyrna.
Centuries later, the habits of Ottoman Turks seem not to have changed.
Today, Turkey has less Christians as a percentage of its population than any of its neighbors — less than Syria, Iraq and Iran. The greatest cause of this was the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek slaughters or genocides between 1915 and 1923.
At least 2.5 million indigenous Christians of Asia Minor were killed — either massacred outright, or victims of deportations, slave labor or death marches. Many of them died in concentration camps of diseases or starvation.
Many Greeks who survived the slaughter were driven from their homes in Asia Minor in the 1923 forcible population exchange between Turkey and Greece.