Turkey (MNN) — The World Council of Churches is expressing serious concern to the Turkish government over the threat toward religious minorities in Turkey in the wake of the Malatya murders and a growing surge of anti-Christian sentiment.
According to published reports, the council raised a series of incidents entailing threats and violence against members of religious minorities, including news reports that endangered key church leaders' lives.
On April 19, the Ministry of Justice director-general of laws claimed that "missionaries are more dangerous than terror organizations." The World Evangelical Alliance goes on to report that two other Turkish Christians, Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal, who were charged with "insulting Turkishness" and "reviling Islam" are awaiting their next court hearing which is scheduled for July 18.
WEA's Johan Candelin says the aggression against believers in Turkey is increasing tensions for a people group who fled from one bad situation into another. "Pray about two thousand Iraqi Christian refugees in Turkey who want to go to a third country. Most of them have someone in their families who has been killed or kidnapped. They are in a very difficult situation, trapped in Turkey and waiting to get to a third country."
Candelin says the Church has courageously opted not to retreat underground. But the community is a target in Turkey. "Most of them are from the Baghdad area, where they were told by the violent groups: 'Either you change your religion, or you will be killed.' Or they said: 'You can leave your home, but you can take nothing with you.' Some parts of Baghdad are empty of Christians."
Pray that those fleeing will be able to get to a safe country. The Turkish Church, just 100,000 Christians in a population of 74 million, exists in an explosive atmosphere. Pray, too, for the boldness of the remnant church and the testimony of believers in both Iraq and Turkey.