Turkey: Petition filed to National Assembly to close churches

November 7, 2019

Persecution of Christians in Turkey: the calculated disrespect that this petition demonstrates toward Christians of all faith traditions, and the disregard it shows for Turkey’s Christian heritage, is an indication of the pervasive influence of the government’s hostility toward the Christian community in Turkey and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in particular. The person who filed this petition should instead have heeded the Ecumenical Patriarch’s message of mutual respect and welcomed Christians.

The Order reiterates our hope that the international human rights community will direct its attention to the plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and of all Christians and other religious minorities in Turkey, and that the Turkish government will heed the repeated calls to grant full religious freedom to its embattled Christian minority.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Turkey, see here.

“Petition to Close Churches in SE Turkey,” International Christian Concern, November 6, 2019:

11/06/2019 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – According to local Turkish News, an unnamed person from the Sur district of the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir filed a petition to the National Assembly claiming that “protestant churches and associations were carrying out missionary activities.” The petition demanded the closure of the churches. It was accepted by the commission for evaluation.

The context surrounding this petition includes three important features. The first is that it touches upon Turkey’s uneasy culture regarding missionaries. Indeed, in Turkey the word is often used interchangeably to reference espionage activities by the West under the guise of Christianity. Many local Christians fear the consequences of being connected with missionary activities named as such, since it often becomes an accusation where they have to defend their loyalty to their country.

The second is that this petition is regarding churches in southeastern Turkey. This area has a strong Kurdish presence, which the government uses to justify an increased harsher presence compared to the rest of the country. Since this region shares a border with Syria, Turkey’s invasion is also felt more strongly. Christians living here find themselves in a difficult position because of the political environment….

While it is unlikely that mass church closures would occur in Turkey as a result of this petition, it does highlight the deep challenges faced by local Christians, especially those located within deeply politicized zones.

Photo by cihan budak, CC BY-SA 3.0,