Politics 11:39 15/05/2019 Armenia

U.S. federal agency: Turkey among most egregious violators of religious freedom

By Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

Last week, I reported on Azerbaijan’s violations of religious freedom as documented in the most recent Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). My article this week covers religious violations in Turkey as reported by USCIRF, a U.S. federal government agency.

The Annual Report revealed that “in 2018, the state of religious freedom in Turkey remained deeply troubling, raising serious concerns that the country’s current trajectory will lead to the further deterioration of conditions in the year ahead. The lack of any meaningful progress on the part of the Turkish government to address longstanding religious freedom issues was continued cause for concern. Many serious limitations on the freedom of religion or belief continued, threatening the continued vitality and survival of minority religious communities in the country; in addition, increased demonization and a smear campaign by government entities and pro-government media contributed to a growing climate of fear among religious minority communities. The Turkish government continued to interfere in the internal affairs of religious communities, disallowing patriarchal elections for the Armenian Apostolic Church and maintaining its requirement that Greek Orthodox metropolitans obtain Turkish citizenship in order to participate in the church’s Holy Synod.”

Furthermore, the USCIRF stated that “followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen,” who was the political supporter of Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier in his career, “continued to be dismissed from public service, detained, and arrested in the tens of thousands for alleged complicity in the July 2016 failed coup attempt or involvement in terrorist activity. The Turkish government has indiscriminately designated those affiliated with Gülen as part of a terrorist organization. Government officials also continued to engage in anti-Semitism in the form of public statements and comments made on social media platforms, while pro-government newspapers and media outlets propagated hate speech directed against both Christians and Jews.”

In the past three years, since the failed coup attempt of July 2016 to overthrow Pres. Erdogan, the Turkish government dismissed over 150,000 public servants, and arrested tens of thousands accusing them of plotting the coup and being involved in terrorism. In addition, 68 journalists -- the most in any country -- have been jailed, over 150 media outlets were closed down, and most independent media companies were controlled by the government.

Furthermore, the USCIRF reports the following religious violations in Turkey:

1) Students in public schools, including Alevis, are forced to take the Islamic course of “Religious Culture and Moral Knowledge.” Armenians, Greeks, Jews and atheists have been given exemptions. Students and their parents seeking exemption have to undergo a long arduous process or pursue their claims in court.

2) The Turkish government interferes in the internal affairs of both Greek and Armenian communities by restricting the ordination of clergy to Turkish citizenship. Since the Armenian Patriarch of Turkey was incapacitated in 2010, the Turkish government has not allowed the Armenian community to elect a new Patriarch.

3) “Alevis constitute the largest religious minority in Turkey [estimated 10 to 25 million]. However, the government has long classified Alevis as Muslim and subsequently failed to recognize them as a religious community distinct from majority Sunni Muslims. Despite a February 2015 ruling issued by the European Court of Human Rights, the government has yet to take steps to exempt Alevi students from attending compulsory religious classes that are based primarily on the Sunni understanding of Islam,” according to the USCIRF Annual Report.

4) There is widespread anti-Semitism in the pro-government print and social media. According to the Hrant Dink Foundation, there were 427 instances of anti-Jewish hate speech from January to April 2018. Turkish politicians also frequently make anti-Semitic comments.

5) The Protestant community also continued to be the target of hate speech. The European Court of Human Rights found Turkey violated the rights of the Foundation of Seventh-day Adventists. In addition, “Jehovah’s Witnesses are denied the right to conscientious objection to military service and face prosecution, fines, and imprisonment for the exercise of their beliefs,” USCIRF reported.

6) “The Armenian Patriarchate has been seeking the return of the Sanasaryan Han in Istanbul -- a property previously used for the education of Armenian children -- that the government seized in 1935. The Greek Orthodox Foundation on Bozcaada Island has also yet to receive the title deeds for 11 properties, despite a September 2014 decision rendered by the Council of Foundations to transfer the deeds. The Greek Orthodox Theological School of Halki, also known as Halki Seminary, has been closed and unable to educate or train clergy since 1971,” according to the USCIRF.

The USCIRF urged the US government to pressure Turkey to comply with all provisions of religious freedom and take appropriate corrective measures!

Source Panorama.am
Share |

Related news

Տեքստում սխալ կամ վրիպակ նկատելու դեպքում, ուղարկեք խմբագրին հաղորդագրություն` նշելով տվյալ սխալը, այնուհետև սեղմելով Ctrl-Enter:


Armenian Church to marks Feast of Ascension of Jesus Christ om May 30
The Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord on the fortieth day following the Feast of the Glorious Resurrection of...
Air temperature to reach +29°C in Yerevan tomorrow
In the afternoon of May 26 in most regions, on May 27-30 in Lori, Tavush, Gegharkunik, Syunik provinces and Artsakh rain with thunderstorm is...
Mount Agung eruption disrupts Australian flights
Mount Agung's eruption on Friday night disrupted a number of flights to and from Australia, even though it is not affecting the operations...
Toleration of racist targeting of Armenians in Azerbaijan made it impossible for Mkhitaryan to travel to Baku – Armenian MFA said to CNN
However, a spokesperson for the Armenian ministry of foreign affairs, told CNN that The toleration of racist targeting of Armenians in the...
Annual “Art Week” launched at National Gallery of Armenia
The official opening of cultural programme named “Art Week” took place on Saturday at the National Gallery of Armenia. The event...
Federal judge in California halts Trump plan to build parts of US-Mexico border wall
A federal judge blocked on Friday President Donald Trump from building sections of his long-sought border wall with money secured under his...
The Hadrut district administration has a new leader
On 25 May Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan approved the Government’s decision on releasing Ivan Avanesyan from the post of the...
More than 1000 shots fired toward Artsakh defense positions over the past week
The Azerbaijani armed forces violated the ceasefire along the Artsakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact over 120 times in the past week. In the period...
Prime Minister sends congratulatory message on Jordan’s Independence Day
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has sent a congratulatory message to King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Jordan’s...
Tretyakov Gallery to host screenings of Armenian cartoons based on Hovahannes Tumanyan’s fairy tales
The Tretyakov Gallery of Moscow will host screenings of Armenian cartoons based on the fairy tales of Armenian poet and publicist Hovhannes...
Not the friendship and genetics but interests matter in international politics – Tevan Poghosyan
“Every state should realize that international relations are based first of all on own interests,” political analyst, the head of...
Cannes 2019: Pedro Almodovar's 'Pain and Glory', the favorite to take home the Palme d'or
Pedro Almodovar, who's never won the Palme d'or yet, is one of the favorite of the competition with his latest "Pain and...
Armenian gymnasts win gold at Dityanti Cup
Armenian gymnasts Arthur Davtyan and Gagik Khachikyan took the first place in the team medal count at  Dityatin Cup underway in St....
207 vehicles taken to penalty areas amid “Last Bell” celebrations in Armenia
Traffic police of Armenia reports that 206 vehicles were taken to the penalty areas as students across Armenia celebrated the end of their...
Citizens to get together at Republic square for “Let’s Dance Kochari” flash mob
Karin” Traditional Song and Dance Ensemble is organizing a flash mob “Let’s Dance Kochari” to kick off at 20։20 on...
PM meets with Armenia-accredited ambassadors, shares the results and challenges of the past year
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met on Friday with Armenia-accredited ambassadors of foreign States and organizations. Greeting the foreign...
Yerevan Opera Theater staff against Nazeni Gharibyan’s election as Chairwoman of the Management Board
The staff members of the Armenian National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet named after Alexander Spendiarian are against Nazeni Gharibyan,...
Explosion in Lyon, France, prompts terror investigation
At least 13 people were hurt Friday in an explosion in the French city of Lyon, prompting a national investigation into possible terrorism, CNN...
Harvey Weinstein to settle with accusers for $44m
Film producer Harvey Weinstein and his former studio's board members have reached a tentative deal with women who accuse him of sexual...
Lars check point to be closed on May 26
Armenian Ministry of Economic Development and Investments reports that due to the celebrations on the occasion of the First Republic of Georgia...
Arsene Wenger: Baku Europa League final is 'a nightmare' for Arsenal and Chelsea fans
The Europa League final in Baku is “a nightmare” for Arsenal and Chelsea fans, former head coach of Arsenal FC Arsene Wenger has...
Garo Paylan slams portrayal of Armenians in Turkish TV series
Istanbul-Armenian MP Garo Paylan, representing the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has voiced concern over the film produced by...
Nazeni Gharibyan elected Chairwoman of the Opera Theatre Management Board
Acting Minister of Culture Nazeni Gharibyan was elected on Friday the Chairwoman of the Management Board of the National Academic Theatre of...
Traffic police: 106 vehicles taken to penalty areas as school students celebrate Last Bell
Traffic police of Armenia reports that 106 vehicles were taken to the penalty area today as students across Armenia are celebrating the end of...
Trump doubts need to bolster US troops in Middle East
President Donald Trump does not think additional US troops are needed in the Middle East to counter Iran, casting doubt on a Pentagon plan to...
Lawyer says filed crime report over judge’s decision to suspend Kocharyan’s trial
Lawyer Alexander Sirunyan says he has filed a crime report to the Prosecutor General’s Office, Special Investigative Service and National...
Armenian president to school graduates: You can and must make Armenia a more prosperous country
President Armen Sarkissian of Armenia has issued a congratulatory message to the school graduates on the symbolic Last Bell ceremony marked on...
Another group of VivaStart program graduates awarded with certificates
VivaCell-MTS continues contributing to the professional development of students. Starting from 2015 Armenia’s leading telecommunication...
Constantine Orbelian sues Armenian PM, acting culture minister
World-famous conductor Constantine Orbelian has filed a lawsuit against Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Acting Minister of Culture...
Theresa May to resign as UK prime minister
Theresa May has said she will quit as Conservative leader on 7 June, paving the way for a contest to decide a new UK prime minister, BBC...

Follow us and get updates!

Most popular articles

{"core.blocks.header.spell_message1":"Selected mistake: ","core.blocks.header.spell_message2":"Send a message about the mistake?"}