Turkey Halts Celebration of Greek Language

02/10/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) –  February 9 marks the international day to celebrate the Greek language. Ankara University, Istanbul University and Trakya University were forced to cancel their joint plans after threats and protests on social media.

Originally “planned as a scientific activity” the universities were threatened online by a group called Eastern Mediterranean Political. One tweet read, “Organising a foolish event and harbouring sympathies for the Greek language puts a dagger in the back of Muslim Turks’ sovereignty in Western Thrace, and means that you have trampled on the Republic of Turkey’s interests in the Sea of Islands (Aegean Sea) and Eastern Mediterranean.” This Turkish view holds resentment and repression for Greece and its heritage, seeing it as detrimental to its pan-Turkish ideology.

Australian Archbishop Makarios also commented on International Greek Language Day, saying, “everyone participates – and there are many – who regardless of their origin, recognise the fundamental role that Greek language has played in the consolidation of European as well as world culture. And, naturally, all Christians participate wholeheartedly, considering that the Greek language was the vehicle that spread the Holy Gospel and Christ’s Truth throughout the universe.”

Turkey’s heavy-handedness in promoting pan-Turkish views in the region causes disdain for activity that allows for any other narrative. Promotion of the Greek language is viewed as a threat to their Turkish identity, and further linking the Greek language to Christianity prompts harsh backlash. Christians are often viewed as “indigenous foreigners” as cited in ICC’s joint report on Turkey. With a strong Turkish community in Greece’s Thrace region, Turkey closely monitors any perceived threats to its people and dominance.

For interviews, please contact Alison Garcia: press@persecution.org. 

ICC is on a mission to help persecuted Christians. Will you join us?