Christians in Turkey targeted by Erdoğan-linked magazine, church attacked
Christians in Turkey are being targeted with hate speech by a publication connected to a company with close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Persecution.org said.
The magazine Gerçek Hayat has targeted religious leaders including the Greek Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Turkey’s Chief Rabbi and the former Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, accusing them of masterminding a failed military coup in 2016 or of connections to the banned Islamic Fethullah Gülen movement, also known as FETÖ, the website said on Tuesday.
Despite condemnations and warnings by several religious officials, the 176-page edition is still in circulation and is expected to remain so until September, Persecution.org said. On Friday, an Armenian church was attacked by an arsonist, it said.
Gerçek Hayat, or “Real Life”, is connected to the Albayrak Holding industrial conglomerate, which is known to have close relations with Erdoğan, the website said. The holding’s website shows that it owns the publication.
“Their media interests lean Islamist and have often targeted Christians through hate speech,” it said. “Connecting Christians with FETÖ is further alarming, as President Erdoğan has used FETÖ allegations to arrest all forms of dissidence and subject the country to silence.”
The magazine also included photos of the religious figures in question, Persecution.org said.
Erdoğan’s government claims it protects and enhances the rights of religious minorities in Turkey, but frequently accuses foreign powers of conspiring to overthrow it. The president, who positions himself as a leader of the Islamic world, has also blamed Western governments for failing to protect Muslims from persecution or violence.
In 2018, Turkey became embroiled in a political crisis with the United States over its detention of Andrew Brunson, a U.S. pastor, on terrorism charges and links to the Gülen movement. Erdoğan refused to intervene in the legal proceedings, prompting U.S. sanctions. Brunson was eventually found guilty by a Turkish judge, released due to time served and ordered to leave the country.