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From the Introduction:

TURKEY: Challenges Facing Christians 2016-2020 reviews the period between 2016 – 2020. It analyzes how the dynamics of historical revisionism and legal status have impacted Turkey’s Christian community, as well as those living in neighboring regional areas under Turkish influence. The report is not a comprehensive catalogue of violations against Christians, but through relevant case-studies found the following themes of religious freedom abuses:

    • Emphasis on forming and maintaining the Turkish identity around Islam
    • Suppression of legal status for Christians and their institutions
    • Historical revisionism as a type of virtue signaling
    • Excluding Christians from full acceptance and participation in Turkish society
    • Neglecting the place of Christians in the lands, their history, heritage and suffering
    • Using intimidation tactics to suppress the cultural and ethnic expression of Christians
    • No active promotion of human rights
    • Exploitation of the vulnerabilities of Christians
    • (Ab)use of Christians as an international bargaining chip and domestic political leverage

“The institutionalized use of religious freedom as a political bargaining chip should prompt caution amongst human rights advocates. Another point of caution is the cultural perception within Turkey of how these issues are discussed within the international community. As in most Middle Eastern cultures, the concepts of honor and shame play an important role within Turkish society.

“Through this report, it is our earnest desire to encourage an open dialogue between the international community and Turkey, aimed at restoring trust and relationship. We hope a transparent dialogue will contribute to policies which recognize, uphold, protect, and promote the rights of Christians living in Turkey. It is through these small yet important steps of honoring the other that true reforms can ultimately be brought about.”

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