12/27/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – A new report details the human rights violations Turkey has committed in recent years against its minority ethnic and religious groups. The report, completed by the Turkish Democracy Project, outlines the persecution against Kurds, Alevis, Christians and Jews, as well as other avenues that the government pursues for discrimination.
The Christian population of Turkey, which 20 percent nearly a century ago, now hovers around 0.2 percent, totaling 100,000 Christians. Turkey often utilizes legal means to discriminate against its non-Muslim minorities, including a 1942 law that introduced heavy taxation for non-Muslims, jizyah, confiscation of property and exile to work camps. Another law, passed in January 2021, seeks to prevent the financing of terrorism but also limits the ability of Christian organizations to raise and utilize funding.
With the creation of modern-day Turkey came a heavy emphasis on the Turkish identity, an identity that had no place for Christianity. The Turkish government particularly views foreign missionaries as a security threat. Attempts to erase Christian culture from Turkey have also manifested in the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, along with another Istanbul church and hundreds of Armenian sites.
Turkey’s malignance against ethnic and religious minorities is seen clearly in the country’s predecessor, the Ottoman Empire, and its genocide against Armenians, a fact that Turkey vehemently denies. Turkey has sought to expand its regional influence and Turkishness, intervening in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh) on behalf of Azerbaijan, in Syria and working with radical Islamists, and in Iraq against the Kurdish terrorist group PKK, where Assyrian Christians are often caught in the crossfire. Freedom House ranked Turkey “Not Free” in its 2021 report, and Turkey ranks 36th on Open Doors’ World Watch List.
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