The Turks are irked by Christians being… well, Christians. And they can’t have that in the Islamic Republic of Turkey, so the official position is that Christian schools “do not have a right to promote Christian values.” But for us to draw attention to this is “Islamophobic.” As an important historical side note, the once Christian region of modern-day Turkey now has less than 120,000 Christians out of a population of more than 75 million. In 1914, the non-Muslim population was 19%, but the Armenian, Assyrian and Pontian genocides literally slashed that to 2.5% by 1927. The Istanbul Pogroms of 1955 against the Orthodox Christians in the Phanar killed or drove out many thousands more. Turkey’s “secular” nature is only skin deep, as the past decade’s push to convert ancient churches into mosques, and stories like this one clearly demonstrate.
Turkish authorities are more and more frequently encroaching on Christian educational institutions on the territory of Turkey. In the officials’ view, such schools do not have a right to promote Christian values, reports the Linga news portal.
Christian charitable organizations in Turkey have for the fifth year now been assisting refugees from Syria, providing them with accommodation and work; the refugees’ children also can afford to continue their education in specialized schools. Among such schools until recently were volunteer educational institutions belonging to the Association of Churches of Jerusalem in the city of Gaziantep. At the beginning of the next academic year, they were ready to accept hundreds of children aged between 8 and 12.
But last week an imam of a local mosque, who saw teachers of one Christian school distributing copies of the Bible to its students and their parents, hastened to inform the media representatives about it.
Firas Dib, spokesman of the Referance newspaper, published the information on “distribution of Christian literature” in Gaziantep schools, personally meeting with the paper’s editor-in-chief and representative of the head of the country’s ruling party. The latter have taken into account “a fact of violation of Muslim children’s rights.” Later on the same day, the city administration received special directives; it at once sent police officers who conducted a search in four Christian schools in the city and sealed them.
It should be noted that the fate of the Christian students as well as schools of other Christian organizations still remains unknown.