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05/29/2019 Turkey (International Christian Concern) –  Turkish police interrupted a baptism ceremony in the city of Bolu while conducting a raid against a church composed of Iranian Christian asylum seekers. The incident was verified by Hristiyan Haber on May 28th, which is the media arm of the Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey, but the incident occurred on March 21st.

The Bolu Provincial Police Department raided the church because it was not authorized. The police allowed the baptism ceremony to complete before sealing the church. However, they recorded all parts of the church with a camera. The Iranian Christians are currently petitioning the authorities to reopen the church, but no progress has been made.

Turkey does not have a pathway for legalization of churches. Many are instead forced to register as a foundation or association, and most even then will not be allowed to open a church building. For this reason, many like the church in Bolu are forced to exist in apartment buildings.

It is common for Christians to report harassment and intimidation by the police who monitor their church services. For Iranian Christians, they are often challenged in that as asylum seekers, they are usually housed in extremely Islamic areas who do not want a Christian presence.

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