The hatred towards Christian minority groups in Turkey and xenophobic euphoria against Christians in general are being fueled in an unprecedented campaign led by Turkey’s rulers, especially the country’s authoritarian leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a new case study by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has revealed.
Turkish president Erdoğan who often spews hate speech against Christians, particularly Vatican, continues to stigmatize millions of people in Turkey and around the world with his systematic and deliberate campaign of churning hostility against Christians. His propaganda machinery amplifies this hateful narrative and the mass media under Erdoğan’s control spread it further to a larger audience.
“Erdoğan has weaponized hate speech against Christians in Turkey and this has been quite worrisome development for some time now,” said Abdullah Bozkurt, the President of Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF).
“He resorts ugly slurs, floats false claims about Vatican, associates his Muslim opponents with fabricated Crusader stories and fan the hostility against Christians,” he added.
SCF has reviewed Erdoğan’s public speeches delivered in recent years to uncover the pattern as well as campaigns run by his associates in politics and media. Turkish president openly ruled out an interfaith dialogue between Islam and Christianity, branded the European Union as group of infidels led by the Pope, and even accused the United Nation Security Council as representing only Christian nations.
The unrelenting attacks against the Holy Sea, especially the Pope, often came out when Erdoğan bashed and tried to bully his opponents whether that would be Fethullah Gülen, the US-based Muslim scholar and major critic of Erdoğan or countries like Germany and the Netherlands when he was prevented to run political campaigns for diaspora Turks.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently slammed Turkey for not treating non-Muslim groups equally and accused Erdoğan government of restricting rights of Christian groups. He also raised the issue of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been wrongly imprisoned in Turkey since October 2016 over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement.
SCF calls upon Turkey to tackle with hate and prejudice that no longer fester in darkness but mushrooms in an open public space freely and without any hindrance. Erdoğan government should honor Turkey’s international commitments in tackling hate and stop infringing Turkish laws as well as international obligations.
It is high time for Turkey’s international partners and allies to confront the thuggish behavior of Turkish president and tell him that his behavior will no longer be condoned and tolerated.