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09/14/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – A Turkish journalist with ties to the political elite has published the results of a poll in the Daily Hürriyet surveying public opinion about the detention of Pastor Brunson. According to his publication, 65.4% of the respondents approve whereas 22.8% do not. Interviews of 1787 respondents were conducted face-to-face.

Critics of the survey say that it is yet another propaganda tool used by President Erdoğan to bolster his public image. Erdoğan has tightened his grip on all public institutions since the 2016 coup attempt. Pastor Brunson was arrested as part of this crackdown. His arbitrary detention correlates to an increase of government harassment and social pressure faced by the rest of the church in Turkey.

While the poll was not conducted by an independent source, it does further develop two noteworthy trends present in Turkey. The first is the government’s tactic of strategically increasing the persecution of Christians in a way which grows its base of popular support. President Erdoğan has tapped into the cultural element of promoting Turkishness, a nationalistic concept which includes the belief that all true Turks are Muslims.

The second trend is the government’s attempt to hide the increase of Christian persecution. Some of Pastor Brunson’s charges include espionage and the support of a terrorist organization. These charges are not inherently anti-Christian, but are used to persecute Pastor Brunson because of his Christian activities. Similarly, the state has recently pressured traditional Churches to publish a declaration which denies the presence of persecution. This shows the amount of work which the state is devoting to maintaining that Turkey is still a “free” country.


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