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Turkey Facts

Score: 62 / 100
Region: Middle East
Persecution Type: Islamic Oppression
Persecution Level: Very High
Population: 80,418,000
Christians: 187,000
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Parliamentary Republic
Leader: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Profile of Persecution Methodology

Violence 52%
Church Life 58%
National Life 70%
Community Life 58%
Family Life 58%
Private Life 75%

Where Persecution Comes From

In Turkey, a mixture of Islam and fierce nationalism leads to Christian persecution. Turks are expected to be Muslims, a conviction that’s fostered by the government in a ploy to consolidate power. After a failed coup in July 2016, President Erdogan has used the political instability to his advantage, trying to unify Turkey under Sunni Islam. This leaves little space for minorities and indirectly results in the persecution of Christians. Within the home, converts to Christianity in particular face strong opposition for their conversion from their families, as they’re seen as traitors to both Islam and the national Turkish identity.

How Christians are Suffering

The high degree of religious nationalism in Turkish society places incredible pressure on Christians. While the government has not targeted Christians directly, the nationalism it promotes leaves little room for Christians to preach the gospel, which is considered an opposing message. Converts from Islam, while not legally prosecuted, face social opposition, and are often forced to lead double lives to keep their faith hidden from family and community members. Christians with Muslim backgrounds are threatened with divorce and loss of inheritance rights upon conversion, and all Christians face employment discrimination.

Examples

At press time, U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson has been imprisoned since October 2016 and is being held hostage to extract political concessions from the United States. He has been accused of supporting the Gülen movement, which allegedly staged the failed coup in July 2016.

Over the past five years, legal ownership of at least 100 ancient Syriac Christian properties in Turkey’s southeast have been seized and transferred to the Turkish state treasury. The properties confiscated by the government include two functioning monasteries and land belonging to the fourth-century Mor Gabriel Monastery.

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Pray for Turkey

  • Turkey is gradually enforcing Islamic influence, and discrimination against Christians and other religious minorities is increasing. Pray for God to enable those experiencing persecution to place all hope and trust in Him.
  • Pray for converts from a Muslim background to minister graciously and wisely to their families. They often experience heavy pressure from family, friends and community to return to Islam.
  • Pray for those who are labeled and treated as traitors after embracing the Christian faith. While conversion is not prohibited by Turkish law, it does lead to heavy social and familial implications.

Stories from Turkey

July 25, 2018

Pastor Andrew Brunson Moved to House Arrest in Turkey

Pastor Andrew Brunson moves to house arrest as the trial continues in Turkey.

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July 18, 2018

U.S. Pastor Brunson Publicly Forgives His Persecutors—as Turkey Calls for Fourth Hearing

After numerous optimistic reports that U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson would finally be released at the end of his third hearing…

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June 20, 2018

28 Days Before Next Hearing, Pressure to Free U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson Heats Up

With 28 days remaining before the next hearing for U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson, U.S. lawmakers and international groups are turning…

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