TURKEY’S Islamist government has stepped up its war on Christianity by seizing all the churches in one city and declaring them state property.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken control of six churches in the war-torn southeastern city of Diyarbakir in his latest move to squash freedom of speech and religious movement.
The state-sanctioned seizure is just the latest in a number of worrying developments to come out of increasingly hardline Turkey, which is in advanced talks with the EU over visa-free travel for its 80 million citizens.
Included in the seizures are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, one of which is over 1,700 years old.
They have now effectively become state property – meaning they are run by the government – in a country with a dire human rights record where about 98 percent of the population is Muslim.
They claim it was made on the grounds that authorities intend to rebuild and restore the historical centre of the city, which has been partially destroyed by 10 months of urban conflict between government forces and militants from the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).
But the seizures have outraged worshippers at the churches, who fear a government coup against their religion are now threatening to take legal action against the decision.
Ahmet Guvener, pastor of Diyarbakir Protestant Church, said: “The government didn’t take over these pieces of property in order to protect them. They did so to acquire them.”
Local government officials are also thought to be critical of the decision, claiming that the seizures lack legal justification and will cause cultural damage to the town.
Full article: Islamist Turkey seizes ALL Christian churches in city and declares them ‘state property’ (Express)