TURKEY: Dangerous consequences of intolerance of religious minorities

Forum 18 | Otmar Oehring | July 10, 2007

The Turkish government has long failed to tackle deep-rooted discrimination against religious minorities – by refusing to guarantee their position in law or to crack down on intolerance from officials, the media and in school curricula. This has left religious minorities dangerously exposed, argues Otmar Oehring of the German Catholic charity Missio http://www.missio.de/dcms/sites/missio2/missio-ueber-sich/leitthemen/menschenrechte/index.html. For, as Dr Oehring observes in this personal commentary for Forum 18 http://www.forum18.org, hostility to religious minorities is stoked by widespread xenophobia. Following the brutal murder of three Protestants in Malatya in April, attacks on and threats against religious minorities have only increased. Official “protection” for religious minority leaders and places of worship seems designed as much to control as to protect them.

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Certain individuals and institutions have always been a target of attacks, most notably the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, the residence of the most senior patriarch in the worldwide Orthodox Christian community. For years it has been threatened with attack and it could be highly dangerous for Patriarch Bartholomew or other senior bishops to walk the streets of the city. The Armenian Patriarch Mesrop – the leader of Turkey’s largest Christian community – is also under threat and is not as well protected as the Ecumenical Patriarch.

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1 thought on “TURKEY: Dangerous consequences of intolerance of religious minorities

  1. According to the Turkish press the Patriarchate is now under police protection.

    Patriarchate faces threat over ‘ecumenical’ title

    An ancient grudge over baptism certificates, a far-right wing lawyer with a mind to make trouble and a popular Greek crooner with a reputation for speaking his mind have all conspired to create legal misery for İstanbul’s 2000-year-old “Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

    The result is that Metropolitans of the Phanar-based church are now under police protection.

    .Kemal Kerinçsız, an ultra-nationalist lawyer, has also applied to the public prosecutor to stop the patriarch from convening a synod with metropolitans from other autocephalous (foreign national) Orthodox Churches.

    Mr. Kerinçsiz is better known for the cases he helped instigate against Nobel-winning author Orhan Pamuk and assassinated Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink for insulting Turkishness. The result of the current action is that metropolitans of the Orthodox Church have now been assigned police guard by the İstanbul Governor’s Office, according to the lawyer for the Patriarchate, Kezban Hatemi.

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