By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter
(Photo: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis)Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan shout slogans and wave Turkish national flags during a pro-government demonstration in Sarachane park in Istanbul, Turkey, July 19, 2016.
The severe persecution and widespread “hatred” that Christians and other minorities experience in Turkey has been detailed in a report by a U.S.-based nonprofit international policy council and think tank.
The Gatestone Institute wrote in a report released Monday that Christians are persecuted by government officials and are severely abused by the public on social media.
It listed a number of articles, such as one from August 2017 in the Armenian-Turkish weekly Agos, which reported that “Armenian, Syriac and Chaldean Christians have not been able to worship in their churches for the last three years.”
“This is because virtually the entire town — and all Christian properties belonging to the indigenous Armenian, Assyrian (Syriac), Chaldean and Protestant communities — was included in an expropriation plan adopted in March 2016 by the Turkish cabinet,” it pointed out.
“Among the Christian properties expropriated are the Armenian Catholic, the Chaldean Mor Petyun and the Armenian Surp Giragos churches.”
What is more, even Muslims who have refused to shun Christians or Kurds have been targeted, the think tank said.
“For instance, a 76-year-old Muslim grandmother in Diyarbak?r who is active in a Kurdish political movement has been harassed by Turkish police for being a ‘hidden Armenian,’ simply because she reads the Bible as well as the Quran,” Gatestone reported.
Christian pastors have been imprisoned, such as the case of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested last October.
Watchdog groups, such as the American Center for Law and Justice, have accused the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of keeping him in prison without any cause.
Turkish officials finally announced the charges against Brunson at the end of August, however, accusing him of “gathering state secrets for espionage, attempting to overthrow the Turkish parliament and government, and to change the constitutional order.”
The Gatestone report noted that Yazidis, Alevis and women in the region have also been abused by Turkish authorities, while dozens of Kurdish journalist have been imprisoned.
“This hatred of Christians and Kurds in Turkey is not restricted to government officials. It is widespread among the public, as well, and expressed extensively on social media,” Gatestone explained.
It pointed to Twitter abuse, where Armenians and grandchildren of survivors of the 1914 Armenian Christian genocide are called “infidels,” “vile and treacherous,” with some saying that all Armenians “must die.”
“The situation of minorities in Turkey and their persecution by Turkey — a member of NATO and perpetual candidate for EU membership — must be told as often and as loudly as possible,” the report urged in conclusion.
Amnesty International has slammed Erdogan’s government as well, accusing the president of having a “human rights meltdown” after the arrest of the group’s Turkey director Idil Eser.
“This is not a legitimate prosecution,” Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s secretary general, said in a statement in July following the arrest. “This is a politically motivated persecution that charts a frightening future for rights in Turkey.”