Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, July 13, 2007

Religious minorities struggle to obtain rights and identity in Turkey

In February 2006, Father Andrea Santoro, a Catholic priest, was murdered in Trabzon, Turkey. In April 2007, three Protestant men were murdered in the Eastern town of Malatya. In light of these incidents, and in response to personal threats on their own lives, the most senior patriarch of the Orthodox Christian community and the Armenian Patriarch Mesrop – who both reside in Istanbul – have been assigned police officers for their protection. However, these police officers are unarmed, and the religious figures have both been advised to hire private security protection, according to an article in Norway’s Forum 18 News.

As threats and violence towards religious minorities, especially non-Muslims, increase in Turkey, the international community and the European Union have taken a hard look at what measures, if any, the country has taken to combat intolerance.

Additionally, the recent rise in Muslim conservatism has been reflected in the Turkish media, and by politicians. In May 2006, a television station aired an interview with Professor Ali Bardakoglu, the head of the government’s Presidency of Religious Affairs, in which he stated, “We are not only telling our people in Turkey that Islam is the right (only) religion, but we also inform them about missionaries’ activities threatening our people.”

The article accuses Turkish media of hostility and bias when reporting attacks against religious minorities.

Many are calling for fundamental constitutional changes to better protect minorities. Those feeling vulnerable to attacks by hostile Turkish nationals are now turning to the European Court of Human Rights to help ensure their safety. Appeals to the Turkish court have only provided them with official recognition, not any official guarantee of legal protection.

For the full article, click here.



Post a Comment

<< Home