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Turkey: Officials say anti-Christian billboards not incitement, could return to streets

Persecution of Christians in Turkey: the calculated disrespect that these billboards demonstrate toward Christians and Jews, and the disregard they show 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 producers of these billboards should have heeded the Ecumenical Patriarch’s message of mutual respect and welcomed Christians and Jews; instead, they printed these unfortunate billboards.

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.

“Turkish Hate Speech Posters Remain Controversial,” International Christian Concern, December 19, 2019:

12/19/2019 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Street posters appearing in Konya this October which warned passer-byers to “not make friends” with Jews and Christians remain a controversial topic among locals. The posters, which were removed following an outcry, may still return back to the streets.

The criminal compliant which removed the posters alleged that these statements incited locals to hatred and hostility towards religious diversity. A warning was made that it encouraged aggressive incidents directed towards Christians and Jews. However, according to officials, the statements made on the posters were taken directly from the Koran and thus the crime of incitement did not occur.

Turkey is officially a secular country, but under the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has moved towards Islamism as a way to build and strengthen a political power base. Hate speech towards religious minorities have become common place by many government officials, and throughout society….

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