Thursday, 12 August 2010

Turkish Government Interference in Non-Muslim Religious Affairs

Did you know that the Turkish government assumes the prerogative of interfering in the religious affairs of its Jewish, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic faith communities? That it assumes the right to stipulate the conditions under which elections for the leadership of those faith communities can be held? It even specifies the title that the spiritual leaders of those churches are allowed to use and insists that they be Turkish citizens and demands that the choice of leader is "trustworthy in the eyes of the Turkish government".

There is no lawful basis for the government to act in this way. It is just a "Turkish tradition"; and the practitioners of these minority faiths simply comply with the tradition out of fear of more state-sanctioned persecution of minority faiths. And what do the governments of the West have to say about this, those governments that are happy to publicly chide Switzerland for its referendum-approved plan to slightly limit the choice of architectural features on certain religious buildings? Absolutely nothing.

Are these civilised standards? Is this the way that a "modern, European" nation acts? No it not.

This article, entitled "TURKEY: Why state interference in the election of Chief Rabbi, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Patriarchs?" from Forum18 provides the best account I have read yet of Turkish government interference in religious affairs.

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