Turkey Publishes “Religious Freedom Report”

07/16/2020 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – In response to the multitude of negative reactions received toward the Hagia Sophia conversion, the Human Rights Department of President Erdogan’s AK Party published a report entitled Our Silent Revolutions in the Field of Religious Freedom. The dossier attempts to explain Turkey’s efforts to include and assist religious minorities from 2002 to the present.

The document details several instances of the government encouraging the participation of religious minorities in schools and worship services. However, most of the examples provided are from before 2016. This is noteworthy because the 2016 coup attempt dramatically changed Turkey, including its approach towards non-Muslim communities.

Furthermore, the later cases cited by Turkey for how they promote religious freedom actually only highlight their discrimination against religious minorities. Rather than creating a legal pathway for churches to gain recognition and their own buildings, the government grants it on some occasions and rejects it in most other instances. This is particularly true in the case of protestant churches, who are forced to function as associations or foundations. If Turkey and President Erdogan supported religious freedom, legal pathways would be created which would allow churches to thrive on their own initiative.

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