by Uzay Bulut
- American Pastor Andrew Brunson and American-Canadian evangelist David Byle are among many Christian clerics who have fallen victim to Turkey's aversion to Christianity. According to Claire Evans, regional manager of the organization International Christian Concern, "Turkey is making it increasingly clear that there is no room for Christianity, even though the constitution states otherwise."
- Today, only around 0.2% of Turkey's population of nearly 80 million is Christian. The 1913-1923 Christian genocide across Ottoman Turkey and the 1955 anti-Greek pogrom in Istanbul are some of the most important events that largely led to the destruction of the country's ancient Christian community. Yet, still today in Turkey, Christian missionaries and citizens continue to be oppressed.
- "One issue that differentiates Turkey from the rest of the world is that our national identity is primarily shaped by religious identity. What makes a Turk a Turk is not so much due to ethnicity, or the language people speak, but is primarily about being Muslim... A large majority of Turkish people think there is nothing in their history that they should be ashamed of. [They] don't feel close to Europe or to the Middle East; they basically feel close to only themselves... one striking fact is that we [asked] if everybody would be a Turk, would the world be a better place, and Turks gave a very high rating. No self-criticism whatsoever." — Professor Ali Çarkoğlu of Koç University, who conducted a survey on nationalism with Professor Ersin Kalaycıoğlu of Sabancı University.
The day after American pastor Andrew Brunson was released from Turkish prison, another Christian who had been living for nearly two decades in the country was detained by Turkish authorities, and told that he had two weeks to leave the country -- without his wife and three children. The American-Canadian evangelist, David Byle, not only suffered several detentions and interrogations over the years, but he had been targeted for deportation on three occasions. Each time, he was saved by court rulings. This time, however, he was unable to prevent banishment, and left the country after two days in a detention center.
Brunson and Byle are among many Christian clerics who have fallen victim to Turkey's aversion to Christianity. In its annual Human Rights Violations Reports, published since 2009, Turkey's Association of Protestant Churches details Turkey's systematic discrimination against Protestants, including verbal and physical attacks; nor does the Turkish government recognize the Protestant community as a "legal entity," denying it the right to freely establish and maintain places of worship.
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