Turkey: Religious Intolerance Is Increasing

Source: FSSPX News

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

There has been a significant increase in attacks perpetrated against non-Muslim churches and religious buildings, a refusal to respect Europe's injunctions regarding freedom of worship, an all-out Islamization of society. Turkey is far from being as open as Recep Tayyip Erdogan tries to make people believe, as confirmed by the latest report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) published in November 2023.

Is the decrease in the number of bomb attacks against Turkish churches or synagogues in recent years, a result that the Turkish government is trying to exploit in the media, just a smoke screen? One would be tempted to believe so when reading the latest study published by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

Because the actions perpetrated against non-Muslim property and people have not diminished, far from it: vandalism of religious buildings, physical violence even inside places of worship, and even theft of sacred objects.

In most cases, the police do nothing to apprehend the culprits, and in the event that they get caught anyway, the Turkish justice system is less than zealous in convicting them.

Thus between 2003 and 2022, only 35% of those guilty of such actions have been formally identified. Nearly half of them were not even the subject of legal proceedings and ultimately, only a quarter of the culprits were actually punished.

In addition to the ill will of the Turkish state, the USCIRF report highlights that when a response exists from the authorities, it does not err on the side of consistency. While the executive firmly condemned the abuses committed against the Jewish cemetery of Hasköy in Istanbul in 2022, the desecrations of the Syriac Christian cemetery did not receive the same treatment… An impunity in the form of “letting it pass” for the attackers.

Alongside the violent actions perpetrated against Christians, Jews, and non-Sunni minorities, which in reality only constitute the tip of the iceberg, the administration's annoyances are legion: confiscation of property, confiscations of property, and bureaucratic obstacles or lack of maintenance of many religious buildings that deteriorate over the decades.

Not to mention the fact that Turkey, which has been seeking to be integrated into the member states of the European Union (EU) for many years, is not extremely zealous when it comes to respecting the injunctions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in matters of freedom of religion.

Thus, more than a year ago, in November 2022, Turkey was ordered by the ECHR to compensate a Greek Orthodox foundation which had been unjustly robbed of its property. They are still waiting.

Furthermore, at the end of 2022 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe responsible for monitoring the application of ECHR decisions, revealed that the Sublime Porte had 480 cases awaiting execution, making the country the state most condemned by European authorities. In response, the Turkish head of state declared during his opening speech to the session of the Turkish Parliament on October 1, 2023, his desire to no longer respect, “nor even read,” ECHR decisions.

Which does not prevent at the same time Recep Tayyip Erdogan from castigating the “racism,” “xenophobia,” and “Islamophobia” of his European neighbors which, according to him, has reached a “level which is no longer tolerable.” It’s really a case of the muezzin making fun of the minaret.