Turkey (MNN) — Patience is growing thin in Turkey. Police cleared out Taksim Square yesterday, and Recept Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's Prime Minister, says protests will no longer be tolerated.
"When he was so-called 'showing tolerance,' there were water cannons, there was tear gas, there was police action against the protestors," says Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs USA.
"If that was tolerance, it's kind of hard to picture what 'zero tolerance' [is] going to look like."
What began as a peaceful environmental demonstration is turning into nationwide protests, with three people dead and over 5,000 injured.
"It seems to have become sort of a widespread protest against the government," Nettleton says. "They're protesting a lack of a voice by the people; they are protesting what they perceive to be a move toward Islamization in Turkey."
The apparent governmental preference for Islam has Turkish Christians concerned.
"At the same time, I don't think anyone is rooting for chaos," says Nettleton.
It's hard to see this ending well, though, he adds.
"When we look to the future, it's hard to know what this is going to mean for the Church–not to mention the government and the entire nation of Turkey," says Nettleton.
"We need to pray that whatever direction this ends up producing for the country, it doesn't harm religious freedom [and] doesn't harm our brothers and sisters there."
When looking at the situation in Turkey, it's easy to think of Egypt. Violence that started there in 2011 has become a battle for religious freedom.
"As we're praying for Turkey, we need to pray with that in our mind, and we need to pray against [the loss of religious freedom]. We need to pray for the protection of our brothers and sisters," says Nettleton.
Though constitutionally a secular nation, pro-Islamic parties are growing their political presence slowly but steadily.
Under the policy of a secularized government, "people could practice their religion, but it wasn't going to be a government mandate or a government policy," Nettleton explains.
"I hope that that continues," he adds. "I hope that whatever comes out of this, the government is still secular and is still separated from the religious authorities in Turkey."
Pray that Turkey will remain a secular state and not move toward Islamic rule. Pray that religious freedom will continue to be upheld in Turkey.
To learn more about how Voice of the Martyrs USA helps persecuted Christians and believers in volatile nations, click here to visit their Web site.