The future of Christians in Turkey is uncertain - opinion

The future of Christians in Turkey is under threat due to growing intolerance among Turks triggered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s reversal of his early policies against minorities, wrote political scientist Ramazan Kılıç on Thursday. 

Erdoğan may have hoped by promising to restore churches in northern Syria to send signals addressing Western concerns about the vulnerabilities of Christians in Turkey, whose share in population declined to less than 0.5 percent today from nearly 25 percent in 1914, Kılıç said in The Conversation. 

In the early years after Erdoğan came to power in 2003, Turkey witnessed reforms to improve the status of Christians in the Turkey adopted to promote to Turkey’s European Union membership bid. But “the conditions that produced the reformist moment in the 2000s radically changed in the 2010s,” after Erdoğan reverted to a populist path, Demir said. 

Today Christians are targeted by conspiracy theories depicting them as collaborators of foreign powers, while the Christian heritage in the country is under further risk as debates are ongoing for reconverting the Chora Museum and the Haghia Sophia in Istanbul into mosques. 

“Turkey is an important country for the history of Christianity, yet the future of the Christian presence in Turkey, I believe, is under threat,” Kılıç said.