Tag Archives: Religious Persecution

The Systematic Persecution of Religious Minorities in Turkey

by the Hon. B. Theodore Bozonelis  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский

Despite the world-wide recognition of the status of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as the spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians, the government of Turkey will give no legal standing and status to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the historical Holy Center of Orthodox Christianity at the Phanar, in Istanbul. The lack of legal standing and status in essence nullifies property and other fundamental civil rights in Turkey for the Ecumenical Patriarchate which precludes its full exercise of religious freedom.  The Ecumenical Patriarchate cannot own in its name the churches to serve the faithful or the cemeteries to provide for their repose. Since it lacks a legal standing, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is powerless to pursue legal remedies to assert property rights or even seek to repair deteriorating property without government approval.

Instead and in lieu of legal standing, Turkey has established a system of minority (community) foundations for Orthodox Christians and other non-Muslim religious minorities to hold properties supervised and controlled by the Turkish government’s General Directorate of Foundations. The Directorate regulates all the activities of religious community foundations which include approximately 75 Greek Orthodox, 42 Armenian and 19 Jewish foundations. The 1935 Law on Religious Foundations, and a subsequent 1936 Decree, required all foundations, Muslim or non-Muslim, to declare their properties by registering the same with the General Directorate of Foundations. Continue Reading…

Should Middle East Religious-Minority Refugees Be Prioritized?

by Samuel Tadros

Syrian Christians.jpg

President Trump’s executive order on refugees has been widely, and rightly, criticized on policy and moral grounds. But while criticism of the executive order is indeed proper and necessary, one aspect of the new policy, namely the prioritization of claims of religious persecution by religious minorities in refugee applications, which has received wide criticism, should in fact be hardly controversial. Critics of the measure have rejected it on both moral grounds—it discriminates based on one’s faith, as well as on practical ones—the perception of such bias towards Christians by the United States would impact the US negatively and may harm those very same Christian communities in the region, who will be viewed as Western agents. These concerns are of course hardly new. Opposition to such policies has been constantly expressed in the past by the Patriarchs and clergy of these communities who fear that an open door for their flock in the West would further contribute to the eradication of Christianity from the Middle East. As serious as these concerns may be, prioritizing religious minorities is neither discriminatory nor likely to result in worse conditions for Middle East Christians. Nor is such a measure even novel, but rather one that has been repeatedly used in the past and continues to be used by the United States in other cases. Rather, any refugee policy driven by realities on the ground has to prioritize Middle East religious minorities. Continue Reading…