08/28/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Churches in Turkey may be subject to another round of discrimination, as Turkish President Erdogan authorized the State Supervisory Council (DDK) to inspect non-governmental organizations. In late 2020, the Turkish parliament also allowed for authorities to replace leaders of foundations who were prosecuted on “terrorism” related charges.
Churches in Turkey are often registered as foundations or associations, meaning that the government will soon be scrutinizing their activities and partnerships. Particularly the Turkish Protestant community has faced increased persecution since 2019 when the use of N-82 deportation codes became a common tactic of Turkish intelligence to limit foreign Christians and force them to leave the country.
The Turkish Protestant community formed the Association of Protestant Churches (TeK) and acts as a representative and unifier for their congregations. Currently, there are 182 fellowships part of the association, with 10 religious foundations and 12 subsequent branches, 34 church associations and 53 subsequent branches, and the remaining having no legal entity status.
The Association’s yearly report on human rights violations committed against the Protestant community suggests that in 2020 the trend for churches creating religious foundations greatly increased, as issues arose with the formation of associations. Erdogan’s new authorization coincides with an increased attempt for church legalization by the community but may result in increased persecution in other areas identified by the report.
Notably, the 2020 report says that “no progress” was made in relation to allowing Christians to train their own religious leaders. As more and more foreign Christians, trained outside of Turkey, are being deported, Turkish Christians also struggle to be able to adequately train their own people to take the necessary and vacant leadership positions.
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