Turkey’s 70 million people are overwhelmingly Muslim, but in the drive to obtain membership of the European Union (EU), the Turkish government has included cosmetic, legal reforms concerning the opening of new churches and other non- Muslim places of worship.
Currently a total of 55 Protestant churches are publicly identified as places of worship in the major cities of Turkey. However, none of these have been able to acquire formal, legal status as church buildings.
Obstacles preventing Turkish Christians from worshipping in buildings they may have rented or purchased include zoning regulations, the size of the church property, and a requirement that public meetings such as church services must have written permission from the other owners of the building. The moderator is reported to have declared, “If they are such good citizens, and have not betrayed the state in any way, why don’t they just become Muslims?”
“The issue of the legalization of Protestant churches is under constant and close scrutiny,” a source from a European Embassy in Ankara confirmed, “It will continue to be one of the topics on the agenda of the EU.” (Compass Direct)
BRITISH CHURCH NEWSPAPER – 24TH JUNE 2005
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