Authorities in nine Turkish provinces are questioning the legality of places of worship used by 40 Protestant church groups.
Under orders from the Turkish Interior Ministry, authorities notified 23 congregations in Istanbul, Ankara, Diyarbakir, Bursa, and Mersin that their rented or purchased places of worship violate municipal building laws.The church groups face legal action if they continue to meet in the buildings. Churches in Izmir, Istanbul, Mersin, and Gaziantep are already facing charges.
Only a handful of Turkey's evangelical churches meet in state-recognized church buildings. The recent action against them is part of a directive issued in August. "Some highly placed officials in Ankara are desperately trying to avoid recognizing the local Protestant church," one leader said. "The construction and zoning laws are 'clutching at straws,' so as to not appear to be in violation of religious rights."
Turkey is seeking membership in the European Union, which has demanded human rights improvements.
The head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate admitted in late November that 81 percent of the mosques under construction in the country were unlicensed, and 55 percent had no architectural plan.
Ten of Istanbul's Protestant groups have filed legal protests against the notice. Turkey's population of 66 million is largely Muslim.
Copyright © 2002 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
For more articles, see Yahoo's full coverage on Turkey.
Previous Christianity Today coverage of persecution in Turkey includes:
Christian Held in Turkey for 'Attempting Organized Propaganda' ReleasedAssyrian's family says videotaping was for nostalgic purposes with no ideological content. (July 12, 2001)
Turkish Christians Accused of Illegal MeetingsCountercharges have been filed against an abusive police chief. (November 30, 2000)
Istanbul Police Arrest Turkish Protestant GroupAustralian Christian roughed up by Avcilar police chief. (May 30, 2000)
Turkey Releases Jailed Christians After 30 DaysWitnesses admit gendarmarie pressured them to sign complaints. (April 10, 2000)
Two Turkish Christians JailedJudge refuses bail during 'religious slander' investigation (March 13, 2000)
70 Christians Arrested While at ChurchPolice detain service attendees claiming a "complaint" had been filed against the church. (Nov. 15, 1999)
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more
More from this Issue
Read These Next
- TrendingRussell Moore: I Already Miss Tim Keller’s Wise VoiceThe late pastor theologian gave strong counsel to me and so many others in ministry.
- From the MagazineHow One Family’s Faith Survived Three Generations in the PulpitWith a front-row seat to their parents’ failures and burnout, a long line of pastor’s kids still went into ministry. Why?
- RelatedJ. K. Rowling’s Witch Hunts Put Us on TrialWhat our anger towards this controversial cultural figure reveals about us.Français简体中文繁體中文
- Editor's PickBecome a Shadow of Your Future SelfManifesting isn’t the answer. Consenting to holiness is.