Jul 31 2018

Turkish religious minorities say they are free to practice

Representatives of 18 religious minority groups in Turkey have signed a joint statement saying that they are not under pressure from authorities to convert or prevented from worshipping, independent news site Diken said.

“As religious representatives and foundation directors of the ancient communities of different religions and belief groups that have been living in our country for centuries, we live our beliefs freely and we freely worship according to our traditions. Statements claiming or implying that there is repression are completely false,” the statement said.

“The various problems and times of victimisation in the past have reached solutions over time. We are in continual communication with our state institutions, who meet the issues we wish to advance with good intentions and a desire for solutions. We are making this joint statement consciously out of the responsibility to correctly inform public opinion.”

The signatories were Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeos I, Turkey Armenian Deputy Patriarch Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, Turkey Chief Rabbi Rav İsak Haleya, Syriac Ancient Community Deputy Patriarch Mor Filüksinos Yusuf Çetin, Turkey Armenian Catholics Spiritual Leader Archbishop Levon Zekiyan, Chaldean Community Deputy Patriarch François Yakan, Turkish Syriac Catholic General Deputy Patriarch Chorbishop Orhan Çanlı, Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church and Denomination Foundation Spiritual President Pastor Kirkor Ağabaloğlu, RUMVADER President Andon Parizyanos, VADİP and Yedikule Surp Pırgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation President Bedros Şirinoğlu, Turkish Jewish Society and Turkish Chief Rabbinate Foundation President İshak İbrahimzadeh, Beyoğlu Syriac Lady Mary Church Foundation President Sait Susin, Surp Agop Armenian Catholic Hospital Foundation President Bernard Sarıbay, Istanbul Syriac Catholic Foundation President Zeki Basatemir, Chaldean Catholic Church Foundation President Teoman Önder, Bulgarian Exarchate Orthodox Church Foundation President Vasil Liaze, Georgian Catholic Church Foundation President Paul Zazadza and Hasköy Turkish Karaite Jewish Foundation President Mişa Örme.