ANKARA, Turkey (Agos)—The Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey released Human Rights Violations Report 2016, revealing the continued attacks and hate speech against churches and religious officials.
According to the report, as part of the operations carried out in the last year, Protestant religious officials have been regarded as a “threat against national security,” some having been deported.
Anteb church leader Patric Jansen on August 26, 2016 was not allowed to enter Turkey because he was regarded by Turkish officials as a “threat against national security.” Andrew Craig Brunson, the leader of İzmir Resurrection Church, was detained to be deported and kept in a repatriation center for 64 days. His request to leave the country voluntarily was denied and was again arrested on December 9 on the charge of being a part of the Gulenist movement.
Ryan Keating, who is affiliated with the Ankara Salvation Church, was leaving Turkey on October 8, 2016 to attend a conference abroad. While at the airport, he was informed that his residence permit was canceled also because of his “threat against national security” and was told he would not be able to return to Turkey. Keating was given a visa on October 17 to be with his family, but was not permitted to enter the country.
The report also reveals that the number of social media messages targeting the churches are increasing.
Hate speech goes unpunished
According to data from the report, there have been billboard ads, posters, pamphlets targeting against the celebration of Christmas and New Year, highlighting the event where a gun was put to head of Santa Claus. The report also criticizes the fact that legal and public authorities have not reacted against such hate campaigns.
Church was given and taken back
According to Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey’s Yalova Municipal Council decided to take back the church of around 1000 Protestants.
According to the report, the Municipal Council unanimously approved the land and building owned by Lighthouse Church as a place of worship on January 6, 2016. However, a member of the council objected the decision later. In the second voting, the former decision was reversed unanimously.
The report also covers multiple protests and attacks against Protestants in Turkey.
February 14, 2016: In Adana, flowers were handed out in front of the church on the occasion of Valentine’s Day. A group came to the church, protesting and posing threats.
February 25, 2016: A group broke the surveillance camera of Samsun Protestant Church and tried to enter the church. The attackers were caught 4 days later. A lawsuit was launched against them on the charge of damage to property and a place of worship.
March 31, 2016: As a precaution for possible ISIS attacks, police tightened the protection measures toward all churches and Protestant institutions in Turkey, especially the Protestant church in Ankara and Radio Shema.
July 16, 2016: A few people who took advantage of the chaos caused by the coup attempt broke the windows of Malatya Church.
November 22, 2016: Pastor of the Protestant Church in Çanakkale was threatened over the phone.