Turkey (MNN) — Turkey has hotly denied that the killing of nearly 1.5 million Armenians during World War I was a genocide. However, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee classified it as such on Wednesday.
The resolution is a "dramatic shift of wording" that officially labels
the events a genocide. Turkey's president Abdullah Gul has called the
action by the U.S. subcommittee "unacceptable."
The U.S. government in the past has asked the Turkish government to provide more freedom for Christians, according to Voice of the Martyrs' Todd Nettleton. But it doesn't seem "that religious freedom was a key factor in having this resolution passed by the foreign affairs committee."
However, the effects of the resolution will impact the Turkish Christian community. "It essentially sort of brings out some of that religious animosity," said Nettleton.
The decision comes at a time when relations between the U.S. and Turkey are already tense. But as tempers mount, the outcome will affect more than politics, according to Nettleton. Since America is considered a Christian country, any American in Turkey
could be targeted. They "are often perceived to be Christians because
they're from America."
"Potentially, one way to strike back is to strike against Christians because this could be perceived as Christians ganging up on Turkish Muslims. And that sort of makes a potential target out of the Christians who are in Turkey." There are only about 3,000 evangelical believers in a population of 65 million.
President Abdullah Gul recently told a news source that Turkey does not target Christians for attacks. Instead, he called them "political crimes." A report from
the Turkish Alliance of Protestant Churches, however, said that there have been several recorded threats and attacks on church buildings, citing a noticeable increase since the April 2007 attacks in Malatya.
Nettleton doesn't believe evangelism will be halted in Turkey. "It just sort of raises the temperature a little bit to make more pressure and more bad feeling," he said.
The next move for the resolution is to full committee. "Regardless of what happens outside the country, regardless of what happens in the halls of the U.S. Congress, the Christians in Turkey are going to continue to be a witness for Christ."