|Persecution Type:||Islamic oppression|
|Persecution Level:||Very High|
|Leader:||President Recep Tayyip Erdogan|
In Turkey, the main religion, Islam, is enmeshed with fierce, fanatical nationalism. Following an attempted coup in July 2016, the country remains in a tense situation. Fierce rhetoric from the government has left less space for other voices, including the Christian church—the general opinion is that a true Turk is a Muslim. Often pressured to return to Islam, Christian converts experience the greatest persecution from family, friends and community. Overall, suspicion toward Christians is increasing in Turkey.
Media reporting on Christians is very biased and Christians regularly experience discrimination when engaging with authorities. Christians have no access to state employment, and experience discrimination in private employment.
Christians from Muslim backgrounds often hide their faith. If discovered, they will face pressure from their families because leaving Islam is seen as a betrayal of their Turkish identity and a source of shame to their family. They may be threatened with divorce and the loss of inheritance rights. Although converts from Islam can legally change their religious affiliation on ID cards, it can be a difficult and stressful process.
Those from ethnic minorities, such as Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Syriac Christians, experience discrimination in the workplace, especially where employers have government ties. Religious affiliation is recorded on ID cards, so it’s easy to discriminate against Christian applicants.
In 2019, at least 23 expatriate Christians received an entry ban or were otherwise forced to leave the country with their families. This is a huge blow for Turkish church groups because many have been involved with the church for many years. Christians fear that this wave of expulsions of expatriates is a prelude for more restrictions for the local Turkish church.
Several churches in Istanbul reported incidents of hate speech as vandals spray painted hate message in English and Arabic on their buildings.
Some Christians received death threats, while others were harassed in the street. Believers involved in street evangelism are especially at risk.
In October 2019, billboard signs at bus stops in Konya displayed anti-Christian and anti-Jewish messages, citing a verse from Quran calling upon Muslims to abstain from befriending Christians and Jews. The signs were later removed after public outrage.
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