Turkey Pressures Religious Minorities Over Syria

03/10/2020 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Turkey’s government has sent a document to Armenian, Greek, Jewish, and Syriac foundations which pledges their support for Turkey’s military activities in Syria. The text of the document says that, “We state before the world that we will continue to support our government and our army as they strive to maintain peace in the region, and that, if necessary, we will fight alongside them.”

Some of the foundations have asked for an amendment to the language before signing. It is not clear what the penalty will be should foundations refuse to sign the statement. However, Turkey has a long history of pressuring religious minority groups to sign similar statements, particularly during times of national upheaval.

Turkey is currently experiencing significant pressure in Syria, where a number of their soldiers have died. The government has increased efforts to justify their continued military existence in Syria, but the conflict keeps entangling Turkey into new military scenarios that make justifying their presence difficult. One of the propaganda tools that Turkey has used in the past is to say that religious minorities in Syria need Turkey’s involvement in the country for their own religious freedom.

However, as the presence of this latest document further shows, Turkey’s interest in the welfare of religious minorities often only goes as far as their own political interests.

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