Erdoğan has incited a jihad against Christianity - opinion

By reigniting Islamic Turkish nationalism, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has practically undone the secularisation efforts of the early years of the Turkish Republic and has incited a jihad against Christianity, wrote author and cleric Father Mario Alexis Portella in the Catholic Crisis Magazine.

Like his Ottoman predecessors, Erdoğan has been seeking the implementation of the kingdom of Allah on earth, said Portella, a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy.

Since he came to power in 2003, Erdoğan has built 17,000 mosques, one-fifth of Turkey’s total, not only in Turkey, but also across the world from the Balkans to Western Europe, Africa and America. 

Meanwhile, he has also seized churches, including, in April 2016, the 1,700-year-old Virgin Mary Syrian Orthodox Church in Diyarbakır in southeast Turkey. At least 50 Syrian churches, monasteries, and cemeteries in the southeastern province of Mardin were seized by the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs in 2017. 

Turkey’s military operation, backed by Syrian Islamist rebels, against the Kurdish-controlled northwestern Syrian district of Afrin in 2018 led to the displacement of 300,000 Christians, Yazidis, and Kurds. And in a new military offensive launched last month against Kurdish militia in northeast Syria, Turkey began to assail Kurdish and Christian civilians, many of them children, with chemical weapons, Portella said. 

“Erdoğan has practically undone the secularisation and religious freedom established in 1924 by Kemal Mustafa Atatürk when he abolished the 1,300-year caliphate that essentially left the political lineage of the prophet of Islam unclaimed,” he said. 

“By reigniting Islamic-Turkish nationalism, observance of the sharia has subtly resumed. In doing so, Erdoğan has incited a jihad against Christianity, simultaneously targeting Kurds, Yazidis, and Shi’i.”