In Turkey the police are still looking for the terrorist who killed 39 people in New year’s eve in a nightclub in the capital, Istanbul. Turkish media say that the suspect shot himself on video. It’s a killer grins, being in the Central part of the city. However, it is not clear whether it was filmed before or after the attack. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the killings, stating that the execution of Christians became “revenge for the religion of God.” Turkey, incidentally, is a Muslim country but has a long history of Christianity. Moreover, all the seven churches that Jesus addresses in the Book of Revelation, were on the territory of modern Turkey. Unfortunately, today Christians there are faced with growing persecution.
In Turkey, the American pastor Andrew Brunson is sitting in jail on trumped-up charges of terrorism. He is a Christian who lives and preaches in Turkey, and, according to experts, this already puts him at risk.
“I can say that today in Turkey that Christians and Jews are going through a very difficult period,” — says Erdemir Icahn from the Foundation for defense of democracies.
Dr. Erdemir Icahn is a Muslim and a Turk who devoted his career to help Christians, Jews and other religious minorities to achieve full religious freedom in their country. That was his basic task, and as a member of the Turkish Parliament. But he faced great obstacles. Now he operates from Washington, working with the Foundation for defense of democracies.
“I think Christians have adapted to live under the constant threat of physical or symbolic violence. They are accustomed to the constant messages of hate. They are accustomed to prevailing in Turkey the culture of impunity — that is, they know that attacking them will apply leniency in sentencing,” says Erdemir Icahn.
According to him, the situation worsened last summer after the failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkish authorities earlier were viewed with suspicion by the Protestants, especially the missionaries, and after the coup became even worse.
“Speaking of Turkey, we are talking about biblical lands. In this country there are many associated with Jews and Christians, that is, there is a very rich in their heritage. So sad to see the Turkish Islamists systematically not only their marginalisiert, but present them as something outlandish,” continues Erdemir Icahn.
According to Erdemir in the coming months, and other Protestant pastors and missionaries can be “substituted” by the authorities, as pastor Brunson. But after the revolution it is difficult to find the Turks are ready to act for their Christian neighbors.
“The majority of citizens are afraid to speak, because after July 15, tens of thousands of public servants were dismissed, and 37 thousand people were arrested. Hundreds of media — Newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations were closed,” — says Erdemir Icahn.
These issues will face President-elect Trump. Erdemir and others fear that America’s allies in NATO increasingly resembles an authoritarian regime.