Posted tagged ‘Turkey and Christianity’

Turkey Targets Christians

October 23, 2016

Turkey Targets Christians, Gatestone Institute, Robert Jones, October 23, 2016

(Please see also, Liberal Submission: Protect Islam, Defame Christianity. — DM)

In the last four years, more than 100 Christian pastors and other religious officials have been deported from Turkey, and banned from reentering.

“When Jesus reached 30 years of age, Allah gave him the duty of being a prophet. He then began inviting people to believe in Allah.” — Turkish textbook on Christianity.

“[R]eligious minority students are faced with the option of taking the class or sitting alone somewhere else on the school premises during the classes, thus separating them from their peers and singling out their religious differences.” — U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Turkey Textbook Report.

It is high time that the activists of the global “human rights community” condemned or at least publicly discussed this “culture of hate” in the Muslim communities — and particularly the Christianophobia.

 

American pastors in Turkey are being arrested hand over fist.

American Pastor Andrew Brunson, of the Resurrection Protestant Church, was arrested in Izmir (Smyrna)on October 7 alongside his wife, Norine Lyn Brunson, for “threatening the national security of Turkey.” Brunson is expected to be deported in 15 days. The couple is still being held in detention.

Turkish authorities also seized the residence permit of Ryan D. Keating, an American student pursuing a PhD in the philosophy of religion at Ankara University. Keating is a Christian who heads the Ankara Refugee Ministry for the Kurtulus Church. While he was leaving Turkey for work purposes, he was told at the airport that his residence permit in Turkey had been cancelled in September for “national security”, meaning that he will not be able to reenter the country. His wife and children are still in Ankara.

Yet another American Protestant pastor, Patrick Jansen, was not allowed to reenter Gaziantep, where he served. And still another American Protestant was ordered to leave Turkey upon landing at the airport.

They are not the first. In the last four years, more than 100 Christian pastors and other religious officials have been deported from Turkey — the visas of some of them were not renewed or were completely cancelled. They have been banned from reentering.

Pastor Brunson had also been exposed to an armed attack in front of the church in 2011, by a Turkish Muslim from the city of Manisa who shouted: “Al-Qaeda will bring you to account”, called members of the congregation “traitors” and threatened them with “bombing the church in Manisa.”

In the meantime, the Protestant Life Bridge Church, in the southern city of Antakya (Antioch), has been closed and sealed upon a complaint of the National Education Directorate and the order of the governor’s office for “giving education illegally.” The church, officials of which are also American citizens, was giving Bible lessons to its members.

The congregation has started looking for a new place to hold their Sunday services, the Turkish Christian news channel SAT-7 TURK reported on October 8.

The Protestant community in Turkey has been exposed to discrimination and persecution for a long time.

According to a global report by the organization Open Doors,

“Persecution of Christians is more than just physical violence. It is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon that involves many aspects such as various forms of cultural marginalization, government discrimination, hindrances on conversion, interferences on participation in public affairs and restrictions on church life.”

According to the 2015 Human Rights Violations Report by the Association of Protestant Churches, Protestants in Turkey are continually exposed to hate crimes, and physical and verbal assaults.

For example, on September 10, 2015, a man went to the Ankara Batıkent Bereket Church, shouted profanities and insults, and struck the church leader. Security forces arrived and took the man to the local police station, where he was released with no action taken.

The man threatened the church leader again, demanding he shut down the church. When the police were notified again, no one came. And when the pastor closed the church and went to the precinct to explain, again no official action was taken.

The Protestant community in Turkey is not recognized as a legal entity, and hence, has no legal right to organize in officially-recognized churches.

The Association of Protestant Churches reported:

The Protestant community has generally tried to solve this issue to setting up associations or becoming a representative of an already existing association. As of 2015, members of the Protestant community have 1 foundation, 35 church associations and 18 representative offices connected to these associations. This association forming process continues. Associations are not accepted as a “church” or a “place of worship.” The problem of a religious congregation becoming a legal entity has not been completely solved. The present legal path does not allow for a congregation to obtain a legal personality as a “congregation.” … Thus, small congregations continue to be helpless…

The Protestant Community does not have the right to share its religion freely or to train religious leaders.

Another source of discrimination against Christians in Turkey is the obligatory declaration of faith: “The section for religious affiliation on the identity cards forces people to declare their faith and increases the risk of facing discrimination in every arena of life,” according to the Association of Protestant Churches.

There are also problems in education and the compulsory “Religious Culture and Moral Knowledge” class, textbooks of which are dominated by the tenets of Islam and Islamic practices.

Currently, all school children in primary and secondary schools in Turkey must attend the class.

According to the 2015 report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, on the compulsory religious education in Turkey in textbooks, “The characterizations of both Jewish and Christian beliefs, sacred texts, and prophets are done through Islamic beliefs rather than through what Jews and Christians believe themselves.”

Teaching the Bible is considered “illegal” by the Turkish authorities, so what are Turkish children are taught about Christianity at school? A brief section in a Turkish textbook describes Christianity as follows:

“When Jesus reached 30 years of age, Allah gave him the duty of being a prophet. He then began inviting people to believe in Allah. At the start, only 12 people believed in his call. They are called the ‘disciples.’ The holy book of Christianity isIncil [the Gospels]. The four Incils written by and known with the names of their writers as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the most famous… Christians accept prophethood of other prophets besides Prophet Muhammad… Christians believe all human beings are born sinners, thus all children are washed with holy water to cleanse from their sins. This is called baptism.”

As the report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom stresses, according to Christian theology, this description is completely false:

The view of Jesus as a prophet is not what Christians believe, but what Muslims believe. Similarly, the holy book of Christians is not only Incil, but the Kutsal Kitap orKitabı Mukaddes, the Holy Bible, with the Old and New Testaments as the two main parts. Students are not told where the four Gospels, which are part of the New Testament, fit into the Christian Bible. The expression “the most famous” is also confusing, as they are the only ones in the canon of the New Testament; it most likely alludes to the idea that there were Gospels which prophesied Prophet Muhammad but were changed or destroyed by Christians. Similarly, it is not clear what the text means in describing Christians as believing in other prophets besides Muhammad. Also, there is no unanimity in Christianity on the baptism of children, or its meaning regarding salvation from sins.

“In principle, students can be exempted by a simple written request by their guardians to the school authorities, however, in practice this is not always adhered to,” added the report.

Religious minorities have reported that some schools refuse exemptions on the premise that there is no other class students can take, and they offer no similar alternative electives specific to the traditions of such children. Instead, religious minority students are faced with the option of taking the class or sitting alone somewhere else on the school premises during the classes, thus separating them from their peers and singling out their religious differences.

For school-age children, such experiences can be traumatic. Thus, many parents of religious minority children continue to let their children take compulsory religious education rather than putting them through such an ordeal at a young age.

1973(Image source: United States Commission on International Religious Freedom)

The sources of Christian persecution in Turkey are “Islamic extremism and religious nationalism,”reported Open Doors. “Islam has become a key feature of Turkish nationalism. Pressure on believers from Muslim backgrounds is especially acute due to the Islamic social environment.”

According to the Istanbul Protestant Church Foundation, which primarily consists of Turkish converts to Christianity:

“Christians still face many difficulties as they attempt to be accepted in their own society even though Turkey boasts as being the most pluralistic culture in the Middle East.

“The land of Asia Minor is the historical setting of the first expressions of the Christian faith, widely recorded throughout the New Testament. Today, this land continues to host some of the most ancient churches. However, the Christian presence has shrunk dramatically in the last century due to many adverse circumstances.

Today, only less than 0.2% of Turkey’s population is Christian. But even this tiny, dwindling minority is still routinely exposed to discrimination on many levels. The historical and current situation of Christians in Turkey and the wider region makes one wonder: Is there no end to Christian-hatred in the Muslim world?

Is there also no end to the Jew-hatred, Alevi-hatred, Yazidi-hatred, atheist-hatred and basically hatred of all non-Muslim groups? Is there no end to the bloodshed between the Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims? It seems that Islamic jihad and Islamic supremacism has created a deeply anti-humanitarian culture in the Muslim world, which has caused the extermination or repression of millions of people.

It also seems that it is high time that the activists of the global “human rights community” condemned or at least publicly discussed this “culture of hate” in Muslim communities — and particularly the Christianophobia. But apparently because the victims are Christian, these “human rights activists” could not care less.

Whether the U.S. administration will speak out for the American Christians whose rights and religious liberty have been violated in Turkey remains to be seen.

“Liberal” Turkey Claims Europe Is Racist

September 1, 2016

“Liberal” Turkey Claims Europe Is Racist, Gatestone InstituteBurak Bekdil, September 1, 2016

♦ “There is no such religion as Christianity … In reality, Jesus Christ was a Muslim coming from Jewish tradition … The name of the religion revealed to Christ was Islam …” — Abdurrahman Dilipak, columnist, Yeni Akit.

♦ In Turkey, not even the smallest village of a few hundred inhabitants has a non-Muslim mayor.

♦ Against this embarrassing background, Turkey is accusing Europe of being racist. That would be like North Korea accusing Europe of being a rogue state.

It’s not a bad joke; it’s a very bad joke. Turkey, where all variants of ethnic and religious xenophobia are a national pastime, is accusing the West of being racist.

Speaking after a spat with Austria and Sweden over news reports and tweets from those countries that accused Turkey of allowing sex with children under the age of 15, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that the behavior of European countries reflected the “racism, anti-Islamic and anti-Turkish (trend) in Europe.”

He is talking about the same Europe where the inhabitants of one of its biggest cities, London, recently elected a Muslim as its mayor. In Turkey, not even the smallest village of a few hundred inhabitants has a non-Muslim mayor.

1831Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (left) blasted European countries for “racism, anti-Islamic and anti-Turkish (trend),” partly in response to a tweet by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom (right) that read: “Turkish decision to allow sex with children under 15 must be reversed. Children need more protection, not less, against violence, sex abuse.”

In “racist” Austria, the police immediately arrested two suspects in connection with an attempt to set fire to a Turkish cultural center in the northern Austrian town of Wels — and at a time of rising tensions with Turkey. By contrast, Turkish law enforcement officials arrested five former gendarmerie intelligence officers just recently — nine years after the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. These officers would probably never have been implicated if the two Islamist allies, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Fethullah Gulen, his staunchest political ally when Dink was assassinated, had not turned into each other’s worst nemesis in power-sharing fight in 2013.

Yeni Akit is an Islamist newspaper and one of Erdogan’s media darlings, a kind of Turkish Pravda in its fanatical support of the president. Its editors always find a seat in the elite group of journalists who accompany the president in his private jet traveling to foreign capitals.

Recently, one of Yeni Akit’s most prominent columnists, Abdurrahman Dilipak wrote:

“There is no such religion as Christianity … In reality, Jesus Christ was a Muslim coming from Jewish tradition … The name of the religion revealed to Christ was Islam … Christianity is nothing more than a cultural adherence … Judaism is already a tradition that has imprisoned itself to its own race … [Jews’] fears are as big as their rage.”

Funny, Dilipak is an Islamist and his holy book acknowledges the two monotheistic religions he denies.

In another column, Dilipak claimed that “there is no such thing as the Greek nation or the Greek civilization.” Then, in following lines that exhibit typically an Islamist’s confused mind, he claims that “the Greek civilization is a civilization of … plagiarism.”

Yeni Akit did not need to hide its racism even in the aftermath of a bloodshed the entire world — except Islamist- denounced. In July, in Nice, France, shortly after the Islamist terror attack that killed more than 80 civilians, the newspaper’s headline read: “France, the perpetrator of genocide in Africa, deserves worse.”

Yeni Akit is a perfect reflection of Turkey’s popular and official racism. In March, when a jihadist suicide bomber killed three Israelis and one Iranian on a busy Istanbul street, Irem Aktas, head of the women’s and media division of the AKP branch in Istanbul’s Eyup district, commented on social media that: “Let the Israeli citizens be worse, I wish they all died.” When she wrote that in her Twitter account, at least 11 Israeli citizens injured by the bomb were being treated at Turkish hospitals. She was not prosecuted for her remarks that “wished death” to injured Israelis.

Turkey’s religious — and ethnic — xenophobia can take amusing turns, too. In September 2015, Turkish authorities banned showing religious symbols and playing music related to various religions at yoga centers. They said that having Buddha sculptures and mantra symbols, as well as playing religious music and burning incense, could be considered violations which could lead to the closure of these centers.

About a month before Turkey’s war on the “religion of yoga,” the country’s top religious body, the Religious Affairs General Directorate, issued a warning about the spreading of the new “religion” of Jediism” — the religion of the Jedi warriors in the Star Wars series. “Jediism … is spreading today in Christian societies. Around 70,000 people in Australia and 390,000 people in England currently define themselves as Jedis,” the article said, before engaging in an Islamic-based critique of a number of Hollywood blockbusters.

Against this embarrassing background, Turkey is accusing Europe of being racist. That would be like North Korea accusing Europe of being a rogue state.

Turkey’s Tradition of Murdering Christians

July 31, 2016

Turkey’s Tradition of Murdering Christians, Gatestone InstituteRobert Jones, July 31, 2016

(Please see also, Turkey’s Erdogan to US General: ‘Know Your Place’, which deals in large part with the U.S. relationship with Turkey. Turkey is “our” NATO ally and its membership in the European Union is still under consideration. — DM)

♦ Turkey’s countless agreements with Western organizations do not seem to have reduced the hatred for Christians there.

♦ In Turkey, it is “ordinary people” who murder or attack Christians, then the judiciary or political system somehow find a way of enabling the perpetrators to get away with the crimes. Most of these crimes are not covered by the international media and Turkey is never held responsible.

♦ While Muslims are pretty much free to practice their religion and express their views on other religions anywhere in the world, Christians and other non-Muslims can be killed in Turkey and other Muslim-majority countries just for attempting peacefully to practice their religion or openly express their views.

♦ “Multiculturalism,” which is passionately defended by many liberals in the West, could have worked wonders in multi-ethnic and multi-religious places such as Anatolia. But unfortunately, Islamic ideology allows only one culture, one religion, and one way of thinking under their rule: Islam. Ironically, this is the central fact these liberals do not want to see.

On 26 July, the northern French town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray witnessed a horrific Islamist attack: Two Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists killed an 85-year-old priest, Jacques Hamel, in his church during Mass. Two nuns and two churchgoers were taken hostage.

The terrorists, who had pledged allegiance to ISIS and, shouting “Allahu Akbar”, slit the throat of the priest and captured the bloody episode on video, according to a nun who escaped the assault.

Such Islamist attacks might be new to EU member countries but not to Turkey. For decades, so many innocent, defenseless Christians in Turkey have been slaughtered by Muslim assailants.

Christians in Turkey are still attacked, murdered or threatened daily; the assailants usually get away with their crimes.

In Malatya, in 2007, during the Zirve Bible Publishing House massacre, three Christian employees were attacked, severely tortured, then had their hands and feet tied and their throats cut by five Muslims on April 18, 2007.

Nine years have passed, but there still has been no justice for the families of the three men who were murdered so savagely.

First, the five suspects who were still in detention were released from their high-security prison by a Turkish court, which ruled that their detention exceeded newly-adopted legal limits.

The trial is still ongoing. The prosecutor claims that the act “was not a terrorist act because the perpetrators did not have a hierarchic bond, their act was not continuous and the knives they used in the massacre did not technically suffice to make the act be regarded as a terrorist act.”

If the court accepts this legal opinion of the prosecutor, it could pave the way for an acquittal. However, given the many “mysterious” rulings of the Turkish judiciary system to acquit criminals, these killers could also be acquitted by a “surprise” ruling any time.

Ironically, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in March that it is necessary to redefine terrorism to include those who support such acts, adding that they could be journalists, lawmakers or activists. There was no difference, he said, between “a terrorist holding a gun or a bomb and those who use their position and pen to serve the aims” of terrorists.

In a country where state authorities are outspokenly so “sensitive” about “terrorism” and “people holding guns,” why are the murderers of Christians not in jail, and why is the prosecutor trying to portray the murders of Christians as “non-terroristic acts”?

Sadly, the three Christians in Malatya were neither the first nor the last Christians to be murdered in Turkey.

On February 5, 2006, Father Andrea Santoro, a 61-year-old Roman Catholic priest, was murdered in the Santa Maria Church in the province of Trabzon. He was shot while kneeling in prayer at his church. Witnesses heard the 16-year-old murderer shout “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is the Greatest”) during the murder.

After the murder, a 74-year-old priest, Father Pierre François René Brunissen, from Samsun, led the next church service in Santoro’s church, which boasted barely a dozen members. Because no one volunteered to replace Santoro, Father Pierre was instructed to travel from Samsun to Trabzon each month to care for the city’s small congregation.

“This is a terrible incident,” Father Pierre said. “It is a sin to kill a person. After all of these incidents, I am worried about my life here.”

In July, 2006, he was stabbed and wounded by a Muslim in Samsun. The perpetrator, 53, said that he stabbed the priest to oppose “his missionary activities.”[1]

The attacks against the Christian culture in Anatolia continue in modern times — even after Turkey joined the Council of Europe in 1949 and NATO in 1952.

Turkey’s countless agreements with Western organizations do not seem to have reduced the hatred for Christians there. In March, 2007, as the Christian community of Mersin was preparing for the Easter, a young Muslim man with a kebab knife entered the church and attacked the priests, Roberto Ferrari and Henry Leylek.

Mersin, in southern Turkey, is home to Tarsus, the birthplace of Saint Paul, and to several churches dating from the earliest Christian era.

As the Christian roots of Anatolia weakened, so did its bonds with Western civilization. “The attack against the priest is an indicator that Ankara is not ready for Europe,” a Roman Catholic Cardinal and theologian, Walter Kasper, told the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera. “There is some amount of tolerance but there is not real freedom. Turkey has to change many things. This change is not about laws. A change of mentality is needed. But you cannot change mentality in one day.”

Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, said: “We do not feel safe. I am very worried. Fanaticism is developing in some groups. Some people want to poison the atmosphere and catholic priests are targeted. Anti-missionary films are broadcast on TV channels.”

At a commemorative ceremony for Father Santoro in February, Bishop Padovese said:

“Today, we are asking the question we asked four years ago: Why? We are also asking the same question for all other victims so unjustly murdered even though they were innocent. Why? What was it that they tried to destroy by murdering Father Andrea? Just a person or what that person represented? The aim of shooting Father Andrea was definitely to shoot a Catholic cleric. His being a Father became the reason of his martyrdom.

“The message of Christ on the cross is clear. ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ Had they known, they would not have done that. It is wrong to extinguish a life to uphold an idea. It is wrong to think that a person who disagrees with us is at fault and should be destroyed. This is the fundamentalism that crumbles a society. For it wrecks coexistence. This fundamentalism — regardless of what religion or political view it belongs to — might win a few battles but it is doomed to lose the war. This is what history teaches us. I hope that this city and this country will turn into a place where people can live as brothers and sisters and unite for the common good for all. Is the Allah of all of us not the same?”

No, unfortunately, the Allah of all of us is not the same.

Just four months later, in June, 2010, it was Padovese’s turn to be murdered. This time the murderer was the Bishop’s own driver for the previous four years. The driver first stabbed the bishop, then cut his throat, while shouting “Allahu Akbar” during the attack.

At the trial, the driver said that the bishop was “Masih ad-Dajjal” (“the false messiah”), then twice in the courtroom he loudly recited the adhan (Islamic call to worship).

1737 (1)Father Andrea Santoro (left), a 61-year-old Roman Catholic priest, and 63-year-old Bishop Luigi Padovese (right), Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, were two Christian priests murdered in Turkey in recent years.

In the territory where Christians once thrived, even converting to Christianity now creates serious problems.

“New Christians coming from Muslim families are often isolated and ostracized,” writes Carnes. “Turgay Ucal, a pastor of an independent church in Istanbul, who converted from Islam to Christianity said: “Buddhism is okay, but not Christianity. There was a history.”

And this history includes how indigenous Christians in Anatolia have been slaughtered by Muslims. [2]

The total population of Turkey is about 80 million; believers of non-Muslim faiths — mostly Christians and Jews — comprise 0.2%. Nevertheless, anti-Christian sentiment is still prevalent in much of the Turkish society. [3]

There seems to be a pattern: Murders of Christians are committed stealthily in Turkey: It is “ordinary people” who murder or attack Christians, then the judiciary or political system somehow finds a way of enabling the murderers or attackers to get away with what they have done. Sadly, most of these crimes are not covered by the international media, and Turkey is never held responsible.

Turkey, however, signed a Customs Union agreement with the European Union in 1995 and was officially recognized as a candidate for full membership in 1999. Negotiations for the accession of Turkey to the EU are still ongoing.

How come a nation that has murdered or attacked so many Christians throughout history, and which has not even apologized for these crimes, is considered even a suitable candidate for EU membership? Because of the threat of blackmail to flood Europe with Muslims? Turkey will flood Europe with them anyway. There is even a name for it: Hijrah, spreading Islam (jihad) by emigration. Exactly as Muslims have done inside Turkey.

And what kind of a culture and civilization have many Muslims built for the most part in the lands that they have conquered? When one observes the historical and current situation in Muslim-majority countries, what one mostly sees are murders, attacks and hatred: Hatred of non-Muslims, hatred of women, hatred of free thought and an extremely deep hatred of everything that is not Islamic. Many Muslims that have moved to the West have been trying to import political Islam to the free world, as well.

Muslim regimes including Turkey have not achieved civilized democratization that would enable all of their citizens — Muslims and non-Muslims — to live free and safe lives.

While Muslims are pretty much free to practice their religion and express their views on other religions or on atheism anywhere in the world, Christians and other non-Muslims can be killed in Turkey and other Muslim-majority countries just for attempting peacefully to practice their religion or openly express their views.

“Multiculturalism,” which is passionately defended by many liberals in the West, could have worked wonders in multi-ethnic and multi-religious places such as Anatolia. But unfortunately, Islamic ideology allows only one culture, one religion, and one way of thinking under their rule: Islam. Ironically, this is the central fact these liberals do not want to see.

Much of the history of Islam shows that the nature of Islamic ideology is to invade or infiltrate, and then to dominate non-Muslims.

In general, Muslims have never shown the slightest interest in peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims. Even if most Muslims are not jihadis, most do not speak out against jihadist attacks. Many thus appear quietly to support jihadis. That there are also peaceful Muslim individuals who respect other faiths does not change this tragic fact.

That is why non-Muslims in the West have every right to fear one day being exposed to the same treatment at the hands of Muslims. The fear non-Muslims have of Islamic attacks is, based on recent evidence, both rational and justified.

Given how unspeakably non-Muslims are treated in majority Muslim countries, including Turkey, who can blame them for being concerned about the possible Islamization of their own free societies?

Why does Turkey, which seems to hate its own Christians, want to have visa-free access to Christian Europe, anyway?

____________________________


[1] Christianity has a long history in Samsun – as in all other Anatolian towns. As Amisos, in Greek, it was one of the centers of the ancient Greek Pontos region, and helped spread the Christian influence in the region.

“After 1914 the Greek and Armenian populations were to dwindle considerably due to the organized death marches and other methods used by the Turks during the Greek and Armenian Genocides,” according to “Pontos World.”

Decades later, attacks against Christians are still commonplace. In December 2007, another Catholic priest, Adriano Franchini, 65, of Izmir was also stabbed and wounded during the Sunday church service by a 19-year-old Muslim.

Izmir, or Smyrna, was an ecclesiastical territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and one of the Seven Churches of Asia mentioned by Apostle John in the Book of Revelation.

During the Ottoman era, Smyrna hosted one of the largest populations of Greeks and Armenians. Today, there is only a tiny Christian minority in the city. The devastation of the Greek culture in the city peaked during what is commonly known as the “Catastrophe of Smyrna.” The Turkish army destroyed the city in 1922, after the Great Fire of Smyrna. Turkish soldiers murdered many non-Muslim civilians, including dozens of priests and bishops, and forced countless Greek men to join labor battalions. Most Greeks fled their homes in the city to seek shelter in Greece and other states.

“The Great Fire of Smyrna,” wrote the author Ioanna Zikakou, “was the peak of the Asia Minor Catastrophe, bringing an end to the 3,000-year Greek presence on Anatolia’s Aegean shore and shifting the population ratio between Muslims and non-Muslims.”

According to the journalist Tony Carnes:

“Few nations have as rich a Christian history as Turkey. This is where Paul founded some of the earliest churches, including the church at Ephesus. Seven churches in this region were addressed in the Book of Revelation. Those in the early monastic movement found the caves of Cappadocia a near-perfect place to live out lives of prayer.

“But Christianity came under Islamic rule in Turkey in 1453 and steadily declined for centuries; the last 100 years have been the worst. In 1900, the Christian population was 22 percent. Now most experts estimate that there are fewer than 200,000 Christians nationwide, comprising less than 0.3 percent of the population.”

Today, in Islamized Anatolia, the members of the diminutive Christian minority are daily exposed to verbal or physical attacks. Kamil Kiroglu was born and raised in Turkey as a Muslim. At the age of 24, he became a Christian and served in the Turkish Church until 2009. After he became Christian, he was rejected by his family.

On January 8, 2006, Kiroglu was beaten unconscious by five young Muslim men.

“The attack followed church services,” writes the scholar John L. Allen Jr. in his book, The Global War on Christians. “Kiroglu later reported that one of the young men, wielding a knife, had shouted, ‘Deny Jesus or I will kill you now!’ Another reportedly shouted, ‘We do not want Christians in this country!’ As the attackers left, they told a friend of Kiroglu’s that they had left a gift for him. It turned out to be a three-foot-long curved knife, left behind as a further warning against Christian activity.”

“Turkey may be an officially secular state, but sociologically it’s an Islamic society. In general, the greatest threat facing Christians comes not from religiously zealous forms of Islam but from ultranationalists who see Christians as agents of the West, often accusing them of being in league with Kurdish separatists.”

In 2009, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the Orthodox Christian Church’s Patriarch, said in aninterview with CBS that Turkey’s Christians were second-class citizens and that he felt “crucified” at the hands of Turkish state authorities.

[2] “The annihilation of the non-Turk/non-Muslim peoples from Anatolia started on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of 250 Armenian intellectuals in Istanbul,” wrote the columnist Raffi Bedrosyan.

“Within a few months, 1.5 million Armenians had been wiped out from their historic homeland of 4,000 years in what is now eastern Turkey, as well as from the northern, southern, central, and western parts of Turkey. About 250,000 Assyrians were also massacred in southeastern Turkey during the same period. Then, it was the Pontic Greeks’ turn to be eliminated from northern Turkey on the Black Sea coast, sporadically from 1916 onward.”

Orhan Picaklar, the pastor of the Samsun Agape Church, was kidnapped and threatened by Muslim locals in 2007. He said that people also tried to kidnap his 11-year-old son from his school. His church has been stoned countless times. Ahmet Guvener, the pastor of the Diyarbakir Protestant Church, said he received so many threats that he was awaiting death: “I will give a letter of attorney to a friend of mine. If I die, I want him to take care of my children.”

[3] See the yearly reports of the Association of Protestant Churches about rights abuses against Christians in Turkey.

Turkey Builds Mega-Mosque in U.S., Blocks Churches in Turkey

April 18, 2016

Turkey Builds Mega-Mosque in U.S., Blocks Churches in Turkey, Gatestone Institute, Uzay Bulut, April 18, 2016

(Please see also, The loss of Jewish rights on the Temple Mount – cause and effect. — DM)

♦ As yet another enormous mosque has opened in the U.S. (funded by the Turkish government), Christians in Turkey are waiting for the day when Turkish state authorities will allow them freely to build or use their churches and safely pray inside them.

♦ In Turkey, some churches have been converted to stables or used as storehouses. Others have been completely destroyed. Sales of churches on the internet are a common practice.

♦ Meanwhile, Turkish President Erdogan said during the opening ceremony of the Maryland mosque that the center was important at a time of an “unfortunate rise in intolerance towards Muslims in the United States and the world.”

♦ How would Muslims feel if mosques in Mecca were put up for sale on the internet, turned into stables, or razed to the ground? How would they feel if a Muslim child were beaten in the classroom by his teacher for not saying “Jesus is my Lord and Savior?” How would they feel if they continually received violent threats or insults for just attempting peacefully to worship in their mosques?

On April 2, a gigantic Ottoman style of mosque was opened in Lanham, Maryland by the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The mosque, according to Turkish officials, is “one of the largest Turkish mosques built outside Turkey.”

Funds to build it, as reported by the Turkish pro-government newspaper, Sabah, came from Turkey’s state-run Presidency of Religious Affairs, known as the Diyanet, as well as Turkish-American non-profit organizations.

The mosque is actually part of a larger complex, commonly referred to as “Maryland kulliye.” Akulliye, as such Islamic compounds were called in Ottoman times, is a complex of buildings, centered on a mosque and composed of various facilities including a madrassa (Islamic religious school).

Erdogan recited verses from the Quran inside the mosque after the mosque was opened.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away from the American soil, in Turkey, Christians have for decades been deprived of the right to build their places of worship.

The 2015 report by Turkey’s Association of Protestant Churches revealed many violent, repressive and discriminatory practices against Protestant Christians in Turkey. According to the report, hate crimes, physical and verbal assaults as well as threats against Protestant Christians were commonplace in 2015 — as in previous years.[1]

“No development with regard to uncovering the perpetrators of these actions has occurred despite making known the content of the threats, the telephone numbers, email addresses, Facebook profiles and YouTube links of those making the threats in an official complaint,” according to the report.

Christians also experience many problems in the compulsory “religion and ethics” classes, which are mostly about indoctrinating schoolchildren in the teachings of Islam. An obligatory declaration of faith is one of the more serious problems facing Christians.

“The section for religious affiliation on the identity cards forces people to declare their faith and increases the risk of facing discrimination in every arena of life,” said the report. “For example, those who want to be exempt from mandatory religious instruction do not have the right to leave the religion line blank because they have to prove they are Christian in order for their children to be exempt from religion classes.”

Eleven-year-old Huseyin Bayram, for instance, a student at a primary school in Diyarbakir, converted to Protestant Christianity with his family in 2008. But because he was still officially registered as a Muslim, he had to take the compulsory Islamic class at school.

In 2010, Huseyin’s family lodged a complaint against the teacher of their child’s mandatory Islamic religious class, stating that the teacher slapped the child in the classroom.

Huseyin said that the teacher had asked the entire class to say the Islamic shahada (“There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah) three times; he did not do so. When the teacher asked him why, he said: “Sir, I go to the church. I do not know shahada and I do not want to learn it.”

The teacher, however, rejected the claims of beating: “I did not know the child was a Christian. I asked him the question that I ask to everyone.”

Like all other cities in present-day Turkey, Diyarbakir — called Dikranagerd or Dikrisagerd by the Armenian community — has a long history of Christianity.

After the division of the Roman Empire, Anatolia — from the Greek word “Anatole” meaning “east” or “sunrise” — became part of the Byzantine Empire. By the fourth century CE, Western and central Anatolia were overwhelmingly Christian and the inhabitants predominantly spoke Greek. A magnificent Christian civilization was established throughout centuries — until the territory was invaded first by the Seljuk Turks and later by the Ottoman Empire.

The year 1915 marked the peak of the Christian genocide, in Diyarbakir as well. “Most of the Armenians living inside the city were trapped,” wrote the Reverend Dr. George A. Leylegian, “and neighborhood by neighborhood, the Ottomans pillaged property and killed the helpless Dikranagerdtsis with nearly full-proof [sic] entrapment. The gendarmes sealed off each street and then raided the houses without reproach.”

Being a candidate for the European Union has not changed Turkey’s attitude towards churches and Christians.

This March, many places in Diyarbakir — including the Surp Giragos Armenian Apostolic and the Armenian Catholic churches — were expropriated by the Turkish government, as well as the Surp Sarkis Chaldean Church, the Virgin Mary Ancient Assyrian Church, and the city’s Protestant church.

Protestant Christians still experience serious problems establishing places of worship.

“Applications for opening a place of worship are rejected or left in a never-ending bureaucratic process. Previous applications that received either no response or a negative response are a clear indication of this situation…

“Apart from some exceptions, Christian congregations are prevented from using historical church buildings for Sunday services or holiday celebrations; these buildings are held by government institutions and are used for purposes other than church services.”

The Istanbul Protestant Church, for instance, officially requested that the Meryem Ana (Mother Mary) Church — in the hands of the city of Kayseri and used in the past as a sports center — be assigned to Christians living in Kayseri to meet their needs for a place of worship.

“No written response to this request has been given. However, in meetings with city officials, it was indicated unofficially that the church would be turned into a mosque or used as a museum. The church continued its efforts on this issue in 2015.”

1553The Istanbul Protestant Church officially requested last year that local Christians be allowed to worship in the Meryem Ana (Mother Mary) Church — in the hands of the city of Kayseri and used in the past as a sports center. City officials indicated that the church would instead be turned into a mosque or used as a museum.

The city of Caesarea, today called Kayseri, was where Saint Krikor Lusavoric — or Saint Gregory the Illuminator (A.D 257-331), the patron saint and first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church — was raised and adopted Christianity as his religion.

King Tiridates III of Armenia, under leadership of Saint Gregory, proclaimed Christianity the state’s official religion in 301. Armenia thus became the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion.

“If Mecca is considered to be sacred for Muslims,” according to the website of Foundation of Kayseri Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Armenian Church, “Kayseri is the same for Armenians being the first city where Christianity was adopted.”

“Kayseri had a robust Armenian presence up until the 1970’s,” wrote the author Aris Nalci. “Today, there are no active Armenian churches in the city, except for the Krikor Lusavorich Church located in the city center. “In 1915, there were more than 50,000 Armenians living in this large trade city; in 1965, it is said that 130 families still remained. Now, however, there are only a few Armenians left.”

Today, the last traces of Christianity in Kayseri are about to be extinguished.

The Agape Church Association in the city of Ordu also recently applied to Turkish state authorities to be able to use the historic Tasbasi Orthodox Church as its church. The provincial director of culture and tourism affairs rejected the application, saying that “the church will be used as an archeology museum.”

Ordu, or Kotyora in Greek, was an ancient Greek town in the northern region of Anatolia historically known as Pontus (which means “sea” in Greek).

Throughout centuries, Christians thrived in the city — until the Islamic invasion of the region. The Christian inhabitants of Ordu were also victims of the Greek and Armenian genocides perpetrated by Muslim Turks between 1913 and 1923.

“There are stories,” wrote the historian Sam Topalidis, “of Armenians from Ordu being huddled into boats only to be later thrown overboard into the Black Sea to drown.”

After deportations, mass murders, death marches, rapes and other atrocities — as well as the 1923 forcible population exchange between Greece and Turkey — Ordu has almost become devoid of its Christian population, as have all other Anatolian cities.

“Similar experiences over many years have rooted the belief in the Protestant community that the legal procedures to establish or build a church are practically impossible to meet and that this right only exists on paper,” reported the Association of Protestant Churches.

Sales of churches on the internet are a common practice.

The Assyrian Mor (Saint) Yuhanna church in the province of Mardin and the historic Saint John Greek church in Bursa were put up for sale by title owners in June, 2015.

In January, 2016, another historic Greek church in the province of Kayseri was offered for sale on the internet.

On February, 2016, a 300-year-old Armenian Catholic Church in the province of Bursa was listed on an internet shopping site by a real estate agent. Its price was 1.5 million dollars.

Giving the titles of churches to private individuals was one of the policies of the Armenian genocide, said the researcher Nevzat Onaran.

“In 1915, the lives and right to property of Armenians were destroyed. The churches put up on sale today are a declaration of the fact that the process of devastation that the [Ottoman Turkish] Committee of Union and Progress government started in 1915 is still going on.”

This policy has targeted not only Armenians, but all other non-Muslim peoples in Anatolia.

Some churches have been converted to stables or used as storehouses. Others have been completely destroyed.

As Muslims in the United States have built yet another enormous mosque with Turkey’s help, Christians in Turkey are waiting for the day when Turkish state authorities will allow them freely to build or use their churches and safely pray inside them.

In the meantime, Turkish President Erdogan said during the opening ceremony of the Maryland mosque that the center was important at a time of an “unfortunate rise in intolerance towards Muslims in the United States and the world.”

Christians in Turkey have been going through not only the most intense feelings of intolerance and hatred, but also unending attacks and even murders. The Christian culture and civilization in Anatolia is on the way to total annihilation.

“Particulars gleaned from studying earlier centuries help us as Westerners to perceive the unique relationship between the religion and politics and, hopefully, to understand its modern-day manifestations better,” wrote the scholar Judy Henzel.

Today Cappadocian Greek in Turkey is a dead language. Many local languages of indigenous Christians — including Pontic Greek, Western Armenian, Suret (Assyrian Neo-Aramaic), Turoyo (Western Assyrian), and Hertevin (Eastern Aramaic) — are on the verge of extinction. It is not only places of worship that are destroyed or left to devastation in Turkey, it is an entire civilization to which the West owes so much.

In that, not only the aggression of Muslim authorities, but also the apathy of many Muslim locals have played a large part.

How would Muslims feel if their mosques in Mecca were put up for sale on the internet? Or turned into stables? Or razed to the ground? How would they feel if a Muslim child were beaten in the classroom by his teacher for not saying “Jesus is my Lord and Savior?”

How would Muslims feel if they continually received violent threats or insults for just attempting peacefully to worship in their mosques? Or if they were always to live in fear of violence? Or if they were systematically treated as if they were second-class citizens — in their indigenous lands where their ancestors once ruled?

As these issues are not discussed in Muslim countries, similar crimes are committed repeatedly — day in and day out. Apparently, one of the most obvious changes that political Islam causes in one’s psyche is the loss of empathy.

Before Muslim political or religious leaders lecture the world about the non-existent threat of “Islamophobia” or “intolerance against Muslims” in the West, they might take moral responsibility and address the real abuses against Christians in their home countries, including the intense Christian- and Jew-hatred, and the actual Christian genocide — both physical and cultural — that is happening across the Muslim world.

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[1] Protestant Christians, like other Christian denominations in Turkey, do not enjoy the right to freely share their faith with people, or train their religious leaders. Protestant communities specifically do not have the right to organize as congregations, because they are not recognized as legal entities. The report gives detailed information about all of these daily discriminatory actions against Protestant Christians.