Monday January 20, 2020

Jews and Christians in Turkey are becoming increasingly fearful because of Islamic extremism

False reports of minority having ties with the coup are being circulated and so Christians and Jews are being targeted.

0
//
Christians, Jews are becoming fearful because of growing extremism. Image Courtesy: Pixabay
  • Christian and Jews represent about two-tenths of one percent of Turkey’s mostly Muslim population of 79 million
  • People are tagging religious minorities as coup plotters
  • The spread of Islamic State (IS) terror in Turkey in recent months has shaken Christians and Jews

September 28, 2016: Threatened by Islamic extremism, Christian and Jewish groups in Turkey are growing more fearful amid increasing terror attacks and the government’s state of emergency following a failed coup attempt, representatives of the minority communities told VOA.

Christian and Jews represent about two-tenths of one percent of Turkey’s mostly Muslim population of 79 million.But pro-government media outlets, as well as some government officials, have accused them of playing a role in the July coup attempt and have stepped up the rhetoric against Christians and Jews.

At a “Democracy and Martyrs” rally in August, a pro-government, million-strong anti-coup demonstration in Istanbul, three of the speakers linked religious minorities to coup plotters, calling them “seeds of Byzantium, “crusaders,” and a “flock of infidels.”

Christian and Jewish leaders, some of whom denounced the coup attempt, were in attendance at the rally in an attempt to show solidarity with the government. Turkey has been in a state of emergency since the coup attempt and tens of thousands of Turks have been jailed for investigations.

NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.

Scapegoats

Turkish human rights lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz told VOA pro-government media have “embraced an alarming narrative of scapegoating Turkey’s religious minorities and connecting the coup plot to them.”

“Particularly pro-government media outlets have taken an anti-U.S. and anti-EU attitude, which I can call a xenophobic attitude, in which they attempt to demonize the West and accuse it of the coup attempt,” he said. “And this narrative targets and harms non-Muslims in Turkey.”

Scholar Rifat Bali, who has written several books on Turkish Jews, says that even though the report of minority ties to the coup have no foundation, Christians and Jews are being targeted.

Check out NewsGram for latest international news updates.

“The nonsensical, so-called news reports that claim that some religious minorities in Turkey are behind the coup attempt are not surprising,” he said. “They are actually quite expected. In an environment where conspiracy theories are commonplace and prevalent, looking for foreigners behind everything becomes normal.”

Historic threats

Christians and Jews, who have been living in parts of what is now Turkey for centuries, have been exposed to violent attacks in Turkey’s history. The 1934 anti-Jewish pogrom in eastern Thrace, and the 1955 anti-Christian pogrom in Istanbul forced tens of thousands of non-Muslims to flee Turkey.

The spread of Islamic State (IS) terror in Turkey in recent months has shaken Christians and Jews.According to news reports, IS cell members have plotted terrors attacks on churches and synagogues in Turkey. IS sees Christianity and Judaism as an enemy to its radical Muslim ideology.

Foreigners, including European Christians and Israeli Jews, have died in terror attacks in Turkey linked to IS.Threats against Christians and churches on social media by Islamist extremists in Turkey have intensified.

“Some people have sent death threats to the mobile phones of 15 pastors,” said Umut Sahin, the secretary-general of the Union of Protestant Churches, an umbrella organization for Protestant denominations in Turkey.

“They used the same terms and arguments as IS in their text messages,” said Sahin, a pastor in Izmir. “They sent the pastor’s propaganda videos of IS.”There are about 10,000 Protestant Christians in Turkey.

Protestant church leader Ihsan Ozbek said some churches have canceled Sunday services because of fears of an IS attack.“This has created deep fear and panic in our community,” he said of continuing terror from IS.

Creating more refugees

Some Turkish Assyrian Christians, whose brethren in Syria have faced killings and kidnappings at the hands of IS, are finding safety abroad.

“The number of Assyrians immigrating to Western countries is also on the rise,” said Erkan Metin, an Assyrian human rights lawyer in Turkey. “Some have left Turkey and many others are preparing for that.”There are about 25,000 Assyrians in Turkey who live mostly in the southeast.

“Many Assyrians from Turkey are also citizens of Western countries,” said Tuma Celik, the Turkey representative of the European Syriac Union (ESU) and the editor-in-chief of the Assyrian monthly newspaper, Sabro.

“Those Assyrians used to spend part of the year in Turkey,” he said. “But as threats of IS are on the rise and the purges of the government are getting increasingly commonplace and violent, many of them have not come to Turkey this year.”But most of Turkey’s 18,000 Jews, who live mainly in Istanbul, are quietly staying put.

NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.

Synagogues have taken tight security measures. British media reports, citing intelligence officials in Turkey, reported in the spring that IS was plotting attacks on Jewish institutions in Turkey.

“There is a continued war environment both inside and outside of Turkey,” said Isil Demirel, an anthropologist from Turkey who writes for the online newspaper Avlaremoz, which covers Jewish-related topics.“And the fact that the war is perpetrated by a group called the ‘Islamic State’ in the name of religion further intensifies the fears and concerns of people about their lives and future,” he said.

Two Turkish synagogues were bombed in 2003 by Islamist terrorists.“So the Jews in Turkey have learned required lessons from these attacks and are doing their best to take precautions to prevent potential ones,” Rifat Bali, a prominent Jewish scholar based in Istanbul, told VOA.

-(VOA)

– prepared by Anubhuti Gupta of Newsgram. Twitter: @anuB_11

Next Story

President of Egypt Calls for Collective Action Against Countries Supporting Terrorism

0
Terrorism egypt
The president of Egypt Urges world leaders to take decisive action against states supporting terrorism. Pixabay

Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt.

The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya.

Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

“There should be a decisive response to countries supporting terrorism and a collective response against terrorism, because the terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support,” he said.

Abdel Fattah Al Sisi Egypt
The President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. VOA

The gathering in Aswan is attended by the leaders of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal along with officials from the U.S., Britain and Canada.

The Sahel region is home to al-Qaida and Islamic State group-linked militants. El-Sissi said Egypt could help train forces and provide weapons to countries in the region to fight extremists.

Egypt has for years been battling an Islamic State-led insurgency that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.

Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, as well as in the country’s vast Western Desert, which has witnessed deadly attacks blamed on militants infiltrating from neighboring Libya.

Since Morsi’s ouster, tensions have grown between Egypt and Turkey and Egypt and Qatar. The political party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo designated as at terrorist group in 2013.

Upcoming conference

El-Sissi also said a “comprehensive, political solution would be achieved in the coming months” for the conflict in Libya, which descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He did not elaborate.

Egypt
This photo provided by the office of Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, dignitaries including Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, gather, for a photo during a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Egypt. VOA

He said that would put an end to a “terrorist hotbed that pushes militants and weapons to (Libya’s) neighboring countries including Egypt.”

El-Sissi apparently was referring to an international summit in Berlin that aims to reach an agreement on actions needed to end the conflict. The conference had been scheduled for October, but it has apparently been postponed.

After the 2011 civil war, Libya split in two, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.

Maritime border agreement 

El-Sissi’s comments came amid heightened tensions with Turkey after a controversial maritime border agreement it signed last month with Libya’s Tripoli-based government.

Also Read- Use of Robots in the US Increases Tremendously

Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically, have denounced the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.

Hifter has for months been fighting an array of militias allied with the Tripoli authorities to wrestle control of the capital.  He is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy. (VOA)