Turkey’s religious communities deny ‘oppression’ claims, say they are ‘freely’ practicing religions
Representatives of Turkey’s religious communities have denied claims their groups were facing oppression, stressing that they are practicing their religions freely.
“Statements alleging and suggesting there is oppression toward us are completely unfounded and injudicious,” the communities said in a joint statement, signed by the representatives of 18 religious minority groups, on July 31.
The representatives, including Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Dimitri Bartholomew, Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, and Chief Rabbi of the Turkish Jewish Community Ishak Haleva, said that as minority leaders they “felt the responsibility to inform the public with the truth.”
They said there were different criticisms wrongly portraying Turkey and claiming that there is religious and cultural oppression in the country.
“As religious representatives of ancient communities with different religions and beliefs, which have been in this country for centuries, we hereby declare that we are practicing our religions in accordance with our traditions and are practicing our beliefs freely,” the statement read.
“Many problems and victimizations that happened in the past were resolved over the years. Regarding the subjects that we aim to work on, we are in continuous dialogue with our state’s institutions with mutual goodwill and solution-based conscience,” it added.
Fifteen other representatives of religious communities in Turkey that signed the statement included Patriarchal Vicar of the Syriac Orthodox Church Mor Filiksinos Yusuf Çetin, Apostolic Administrator of the Armenian Archeparchy of Istanbul Archbishop Levon Zekiyan, Chaldean Catholic Community spiritual leader François Yakan and pastor Krikor Ağabaloğlu of the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church.