Dec 26 2017

Christians in Turkey are under threat - The Times

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s anti-Western rhetoric also threatens the Christians in his country, British newspaper The Times said.

Across Turkey, Christianity has been in decline over the past century due to wars, massacres and political instability.

Turkey’s Southeast, once home to hundreds of thousands of Syriac Christians, descendants of the ancient Assyrians, now has a community of only about 3,000, the newspaper said.

“We felt very insecure after the coup,” İsa Doğdu, the deputy head of the Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation was quoted by The Times as saying.

“Erdoğan pictures the West as tyrants and traitors. For many people in Turkey, that translates into Christians being traitors.”

Tourism, once the small community’s lifeline, has also tailed off after attacks against civilians and the armed conflict that intensified, The Times said, and those who left for Europe were joined by Syrian Christians.

“We have lived among the Muslims for so long, we know how to do it,” Sabo Gökinan, the last of his family to stay in Turkey, was The Times as saying.

“Most people want to stay. But they have to have something to stay for.”