Turkey slams US over religious freedom report

Turkey slams US over religious freedom report

Turkey slams US over religious freedom report

Turkey has lashed out at a United States’ commission report scrutinizing the state of religious freedoms in the world for describing FETÖ as a Sunni group facing persecution by the Turkish government.

“Describing the members of FETÖ as Sunni Muslims facing persecution openly manifests, from the very beginning, that this report is biased, dislocated from reality and written under the influence of … evil groups,” read a statement issued by Hami Aksoy, spokesman of the Turkish foreign ministry on May 1.

FETÖ categorization as a terrorist organization has been confirmed through court decisions. The description of FETÖ in the annual report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) means tolerating terror, Aksoy said.

FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen, whom Turkey has sought to extradite from the U.S., and his followers are accused of overthrowing the government, Turkish ministry spokesman added.

USCIRF placed Turkey on its Tier list, along with other 11 countries, meaning the violations meet one or two, but not all three, of the elements of the systematic, ongoing egregious test for “countries of particular concern” (CPCs).

“The government continued to allege that Gülen and his followers were behind the plot to overthrow the government, although only a small minority has been charged with participation in the coup attempt. The government labeled Gülen and his followers a terrorist organization in May 2016 and refers to them as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ),” read the report.

Aksoy also criticized the report for alleging that a joint communiqué signed by the religious representatives of all non-Muslim communities in 2018 was coordinated by the Turkish state. He said alone this claim reveals that the report was prepared on political motives.

“Criticisms against Turkey by the U.S. administration and the Congress, which could not digest the election of a Muslim to the House Representatives, fail to show sufficient will in the fight against Islamophobia and to prevent attacks against their own religious minorities, are a display of inconsistency,” said Aksoy.

Two Muslim women were elected to Congress in 2018: Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

He also characterized Turkey as the best example for the world of different religions and faiths cohabitating in peace at a period when religious freedoms are under growing threats of terrorist organizations.