What flagrant hypocrisy. From AP, with thanks to Anthony:
BELEK, Turkey — In a bid to showcase Turkey as a country that respects religions, the prime minister inaugurated a mosque, a synagogue and a church, just days before the European Union is to decide on whether to start membership talks with the largely Muslim nation.
The side-by-side houses of worship are in a park in the Mediterranean resort of Belek, near Antalya, and will mainly serve foreigners vacationing in the region. The church is partitioned into Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox sections.
“Beyond its symbolic importance, this project gives the message of peace and brotherhood to whole world,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday at the inauguration ceremony.
European leaders will decide in a Dec. 16-17 summit whether to begin EU accession talks with Turkey.
The 25-member bloc has expressed concern about Turkey’s treatment of religious and ethnic minorities and has said that improved rights for minorities are a condition for Turkish membership.
Dutch Minister for European Affairs Atzo Nicolai attended the ceremony and urged Turkey to decrease “state intervention in worship.”
“As friends, we owe it ourselves to be critical … of each other,” Nicolai said.
The inauguration of the mosque, church and synagogue was made possible after Turkey changed laws that restricted the opening of houses of worship other than mosques to boost its chances of EU membership.…
“Turkey’s Catholic citizens cannot claim a title of ownership on the churches they use, let alone request permission for new ones when there is need,” said the Rev. Alphonse T. Sammut, a Vatican representative in Turkey.
Turkey also is under pressure to reopen an Orthodox theology school on an island outside Istanbul that trained generations of church leaders, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, until it was closed by Turkish authorities in 1971.
Turkey is locked in a dispute over the status of Bartholomew, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians.
The nation has long refused to accept any international role for the patriarch and argues that Bartholomew is merely the spiritual leader of Istanbul’s dwindling Orthodox community of less than 3,000.
Erdogan warned that the EU risks being branded a “Christian club” if it excludes Turkey.
Horror of horrors! A Christian club! I trust Erdogan will duly protest the Arab League’s status as a Muslim Club.