Fill 1

42

Score

64.78

Region

Middle East

Persecution Type

Islamic oppression

Religion

Islam

Persecution Level

Very High

Population

84,515,000

Christian

170,000

Government

Presidential republic

Leader

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Profile of Persecution

Violence 4.6/16.7
Church Life 11.6/16.7
National Life 13.2/16.7
Community Life 11.4/16.7
Family Life 11.5/16.7
Private Life 12.6/16.7

What does persecution look like in Turkey?

Christians in Turkey experience incredible pressure from very strong—and increasing—religious nationalism in Turkey. The government continues to target even foreign Christians in its borders, along with the foreign spouses of Turkish citizens. It’s not technically illegal for Muslims to convert to Christianity, but any Muslim who does decide to follow Jesus comes under immense strain from their families and communities, who often demand the convert return to Islam. These believers are sometimes forced to lead a double life and hide their conversion. Even Christians who did not convert from Islam are hardly regarded as full members of Turkish society and encounter all kinds of legal and bureaucratic obstructions. All Christians have limited access to state employment and experience discrimination in private employment, especially in jobs with ties to the government.

Meet Hans-Jurgen Louven, who was forced to leave Turkey

“The only reason I can think of for [forcing me to leave] is that we are people of faith, and at times we have shared our faith with the local people.”

What has changed this year?

Even though it’s decreased in score, Turkey continues its status as a place where Christians can expect to encounter significant opposition for their faith. Increasingly, Turkish identity is tied to Islam, so anyone outside of that brand of religious nationalism encounters suspicion and discrimination. All Christians are under pressure in Turkey, but converts from Islam are certainly the most vulnerable, along with Christian refugees from countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

The persecution against converts from Islam is greatest in the rural areas of Turkey. That’s why many believers who were Muslim choose to live in cities where they have more freedom. Christians in more historical Christian traditions—groups like the Armenian and Assyrian (Syriac) churches—face higher pressure and hostility in Turkey’s southeastern region.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Turkey?

Open Doors raises worldwide prayer support for persecuted believers in Turkey.

Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2021).

Pray for Turkey

  • Pray for Christians in Turkey as they live, work and worship in a place that doesn’t seem to want them. Pray for deliverance from discrimination and an increasing awareness of God’s love and grace. Ask God to protect converts from Islam and to bring them to a place where can worship Him freely.
  • Ask God to strengthen Open Doors’ ministry to refugee communities in Turkey, particularly our support of Iranian believers. Pray that God will lift up the Centers of Hope now operating in Turkey and will use those communities to bring more people to Him.
  • Pray for the leadership of Turkey, that it would realize Turkish Christians are part of the fabric of their country. Pray believers would be able to work without discrimination.

Stories from Turkey

May 3, 2022

Imprisoned, beaten, spied on—these Iranian believers still choose Jesus

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April 29, 2022

Hope for the Middle East Prayer Campaign

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February 22, 2022

The Olympics are over—but our prayers can’t be

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