Turkey answers accusations of lack of religious freedom.

Source: FSSPX News


On Friday May 9, the Turkish government rejected accusations of the absence of religious liberty in their country, which had been expressed by the European Union (EU). The Turkish minister of foreign affairs, Abdullah Gul, whose country is a candidate for entry into the EU, affirmed that it is not in the traditions of his country, which respects freedom of worship, to discriminate against religions.

The German Guenter Verheugen, European commissioner for Expansion, had deplored at the Vatican – where he was received by Bishop Jean-Louis Tauran, “minister of foreign affairs” at the Vatican – the lack of religious liberty in Turkey, which represents an obstacle to this country’s membership of the EU. He affirmed on this occasion that the “Catholic Church has no rights in Turkey”. Turkey obtained the status of candidate for EU membership in 1999. The EU has until the end of next year, to decide whether or not to open negotiations with Ankara, based on the results of a report by the European Commission.

From the religious point of view, the situation in Turkey remains fundamentally unchanged, notably with regard to religious minorities, who are sometimes the target of acts of violence and vandalism. The religious minorities not recognized by the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, can not as a rule acquire new property for their religious activities. The Syriac minority is not recognized by the authorities as a minority coming under the Treaty of Lausanne, in spite of its long-standing presence in Turkey. The Christian Syriac, members of the Assyro-Chaldean community of Tur Abdin in the south-east of Turkey, do not benefit from the rights of a religious minority.

Christian religious communities also experience inexplicable restrictions, such as those encountered by the theological Orthodox seminary on the island of Halki, belonging to the ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Holy Cross Seminary of the Orthodox Apostolic Armenian Church. Both have been closed for theological studies since 1971. Like the ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Armenian Patriarchate does not have legal status, nor do the Catholic or Protestant Churches.

Although proselytism is not forbidden de jure, all pastoral activity with Muslims is considered as religious propaganda disturbing public order, and therefore liable to be forbidden by the police.