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TURKEY: CHRISTIAN VULNERABILITY ESCALATES YET AGAIN
by Elizabeth Kendal
On Sunday 24 June Turkish citizens at home and abroad will vote to elect both a president and a parliament. Originally scheduled for 3 November 2019, rumour has it that the polls were brought forward so voting could take place before the looming economic crisis takes hold. Concerning the parliamentary elections: Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) has entered an alliance with the Islamo-fascist, far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP); together they expect to win a majority. Furthermore, with MHP support, Erdogan is confident he will win the presidential race in the first round. That said, a look at the opinion polls reveals a very tight race. Indeed, on 13 June neither Erdogan nor the AKP-MHP coalition had a majority.
Erdogan aspires to be a great Islamic leader, reminiscent of an Ottoman Sultan or Caliph. For Erdogan and his supporters, losing power is unthinkable. It is already being mooted that if Erdogan wins the presidency (as is anticipated) but the AKP-MHP fails to secure a majority in parliament, then Erdogan may simply demand fresh parliamentary polls. One academic recently stated on air that if Erdogan or the AKP loses power, then Turks will 'take to the streets in the name of Allah', adding that he had a weapons cache buried in Istanbul's Belgrad Forest ready for such a time. Criticised for threatening civil war, the academic backed down, saying the only thing he actually had buried in the forest was his ‘anger’ [over the July 2016 coup attempt]. His back-flip has done nothing to ease people's fears that an Erdogan or AKP loss would be countered with violence.
|Afrin's Church of the Good Shepherd: |
emptied, shuttered and tagged with
graffiti naming the jihadist groups
that now claim it. (source)
|Kurz meets Erdogan (undated). |
Observe the body language.
click on image to enlarge (source)
Whilst Sultan Erdogan might dream of breaching the 'Gates of Vienna' and leading a jihad or an anti-Christian Islamic intifada in Europe, the Christians most vulnerable to Islamo-Turkish retaliation are in reality those at hand: i.e. Turkey's own Christians. In recent years government-sponsored anti-Christian and anti-ethnic- religious minority hate speech has escalated to extreme levels. It is not only pervasive in the media, but also in the school curriculum. Turkey is a tinderbox! Its Christians are exceedingly vulnerable! Unfinished business ever looms. Consequently, we must remain vigilant and ever prayerful.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:
* sustain, preserve and richly bless his precious Church in Turkey comprising (among others) remnant Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians as well as convert Kurds and Turks; may the Church grow in unity, faith and grace to be a light that overcomes darkness and a voice of hope that counters despair. 'I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it' (Promise of Jesus, Matthew 16:18 ESV).
* intervene in Turkey to produce awakening and effect change beyond anything we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). May every evil scheme of the devil and wicked plot of 'man' be foiled; and may the Lord our God preserve and strengthen those who would 'turn back the battle at the gate' (from Isaiah 28:5-6).
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
CHRISTIAN VULNERABLITY ESCALATES AGAIN IN TURKEY
On Sunday 24 June Turkish citizens at home and abroad will vote to elect a president and a parliament. There is every sign that these elections will bring neither stability to the nation nor security to Turkey's persecuted ethnic-religious minorities. In recent years, government-sanctioned anti-Christian and anti-ethnic-religious minority hate speech has soared to extreme levels. Erdogan has even referred to Turkish Armenians as 'terrorist separatists', thereby resurrecting the anti-Armenian, anti-Christian propaganda that fuelled the Armenian Genocide of 1915. A week ago he ominously warned that Austria shutting foreign-funded hardline mosques in Vienna could trigger a war between 'cross and crescent' for which Austria's Chancellor Kruz would (supposedly) be responsible. Turkey is a tinderbox. Its Christians are exceedingly vulnerable. Unfinished business ever looms. Consequently, we must remain vigilant and ever prayerful.
Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).