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Turkey: Magazine Targets Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with False and Inflammatory Claims

Persecution of Christians in Turkey: the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, calls upon the Turkish government to act swiftly and decisively to protect the nation’s Greek Orthodox community from vigilante action and other dangers that could arise from these slanders. These false charges demonstrate the same contempt for the Christian community of Asia Minor that we see manifested in numerous ways, including in the conversion of ancient churches to mosques; even the conversion of the Hagia Sophia to a mosque is now being contemplated. This contempt is also manifested in the ongoing denial of property rights and legal identity to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

This unfortunate incident once again highlights the precarious position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey. The Order notes with sorrow that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)’s 2018 Annual Report, which documents violations of religious freedom around the world, has again included Turkey among its Tier 2 violators — that is, countries where religious freedom violations are systematic, ongoing, and/or egregious. 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.

Press Release from the Ecumenical Patriarchate (in Turkish)

Announced to the public:

In an article published in the journal Real Life, members of the community and religious leaders are targeted with unsubstantiated slanders, which are highly inflammatory and upsetting to the Christian and Jewish members of our people. As this action was very painful, very grave and irresponsible, and made further allegations, we consider it necessary to explain to the public our concerns in order to reduce the false claims against the Orthodox community in Turkey. Unfortunately, the racist manifestations and violations that have been committed in various countries are likely to be perpetrated against us. Since His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch gave his support to our state, he was deeply saddened by such an allegation. While making this statement to the respected public, we declare that we are confident that the state authorities will take the necessary action.

“Targeting of Bartholomew by a Turkish magazine – Concern at the Patriarchate,” translated from “Στοχοποίηση Βαρθολομαίου από τουρκικό περιοδικό – Ανησυχία στο Πατριαρχείο,”, May 11, 2020:

A dangerous article has been published in a Turkish magazine from the group that also publishes Yeni Şafak. It accuses many members of the minority, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, of helping Fethullah Gulen stage a coup against Tayyip Erdogan. In fact, the article also has photos of the people it accuses, among which the Ecumenical Patriarch can be seen. Patriarchate: Danger of racist attacks and desecration The Ecumenical Patriarchate said in a statement that the publication was targeting members of the community and religious leaders with false allegations. It expressed strong concern about the high risk of racist attacks and desecration. It is worth noting that just two days ago, there was an arson attack on an Armenian Church, with the perpetrator claiming that the Armenian community was to blame for the coronavirus.

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