Christians in Turkey face increased persecution
Pastor Andrew Brunson
With the rise of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Islamist party, Turkey has slowly pulled away from its historic position as a bridge between East and West and increased its persecution of Christians, said an analysis for U.S. advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC).
Mustafa Akyol of the Cato Institute told Congress that Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) had gone from pushing pro-freedom reforms to becoming “a parochial, paranoid and authoritarian party which sees conspiracies by the West and its imagined fifth columns under every stone”.
Lisel Hintz, assistant professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, said in today’s Turkey there was a clear preference for the dominant segment of Turkish citizens. “To be a good Turk, you have to be not just a Muslim, but a Sunni Muslim,” she said.
They pointed to the case of Pastor Andrew Brunson, who also testified at the hearing. Turkey’s government accused Brunson, who was then working as a missionary in the country, of spying and imprisoned him for two years. Yet the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded earlier this year that he had been persecuted because of his Christian faith and U.S. nationality.
Brunson is not the only Christian who has faced pressure from the state. “The Turkish government has accelerated the expulsion of Christian foreigners from Turkey,” he said in the hearing. “Over 50 Protestant families have had to leave the country in recent years.”