Turkey’s President Erdogan is already facing international calls to respect human rights in Turkey following last weekend’s failed coup.
Now he’s also being encouraged to champion the rights of Christians living in the country as well. The call is coming from the Anglican Church’s venerable man in Istanbul, Canon Ian Sherwood, who for 28 years has been chaplain of the British consulate there and priest of the Crimean Memorial Church in the city.
‘As long-centuries established Christians in Turkey we are alarmed at how life is evolving in Turkey,’ says Sherwood, who warns that the climate of tolerance has changed in the country, which is more than 99 per cent Muslim, mainly Sunni. ‘We wish Turkey peace and tolerance – the same tolerance that most societies west of Turkey enjoy.’ Under Erdogan, Turkey has faced criticism for what many see as its
lacklustre efforts to oppose the rise of Islamic State just across the
border in Syria.
Liberals and political opponents alike in Turkey have
also attacked Erdogan’s conservative Islamist policy agenda. Sherwood
himself doesn’t blame Erdogan, nor his Islamist Justice and Development
party government for the cooling of the cultural climate for Christians
in Turkey. Instead he appeals to the devoutly Sunni president to protect
the religious convictions of others living in the country – much in the
same way as Anglican leaders here stand up for the religious rights of
non-Christians in Britain.
In recent years Sherwood says that he has witnessed a rising
undercurrent of intolerance towards Christians and other non-Muslims in
Turkey – and this goes further than boys standing on the wall of his
churchyard shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar’. The church, a favourite of visiting
tourists and expats in the city, was built after the Crimean War in the
1850s to mark the valour of British servicemen who died in the
conflict, and is just a short walk from Taksim Square where last weekend
hundreds of angry supporters of Erdogan violently attacked soldiers
taking part in the coup. They, too, shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’. Read it all here..........................