A briefing from the Association of Protestants Churches
The churches in Turkey have for many years been threatened and sometimes attacked by ultra-nationalist, conservative individuals and “deep state” organizations. However, recently the origin and form of the threats has changed as a result of the chaos and terror in the Middle East directed against churches. The terrorist organization DAESH (Islamic State) started the genocide of Christians in the Middle East and uses brutal methods to clear these lands of Christians. Since August 2015 threats began to be issued against churches and church leaders in Turkey via social media, e-mail, SMS and YouTube videos. Despite making the necessary complaints regarding this threat, appealing to the Turkish National Assembly, MPs raising questions about this to the government and issuing press statements, the magnitude of the threat against the churches has not been made clear enough and those who made the threats have not been apprehended. At the end of December 2015 two DAESH members were caught planning an attack in Ankara. They confessed to conducting investigations of churches in order to make attacks. All of these incidents are documented in the 2015 Report of Rights Violations issued by the Association of Protestant Churches.
However, recently, particularly prior to the Easter holidays, the police have used the national press and TV broadcasts to warn about the threat against the churches and this has led to consternation. The police force took extensive security measures in all the churches at Easter time and there were no negative incidents. After Easter, the police visited the churches and examined the security situation: Are there cameras? Do they have security? Etc.
But on 1st April 2016, many church leaders throughout Turkey were visited by the police or called to the police station. They were informed that at meeting times the police would take security measures by searching all those entering the church. It is understood that these measures will apply to all churches in Turkey. Some churches which are particularly at risk have 24 hour police protection. No indication was given as to when these security measures might end.
All these events indicate that there is a serious terrorist threat to the church in Turkey. Please pray.
While thanking the security forces and the government for their concern, there is still a need for better communication and informative discussion. If the heads of society are informed about what is happening, it will significantly contribute to overcome the anxiety and fear in the public sector.
Chairman of the Board
Pastor İhsan Yinal Özbek