CNA Staff, Jan 29, 2024 / 17:50 pm
Terrorists stormed a Catholic church during Mass on Sunday in Istanbul, Turkey, killing one person by shooting him in the head. The so-called Islamic State has since claimed responsibility for the attack, which according to the local bishop took place during the consecration.
The attack, which roughly coincided with the first anniversary of a massive earthquake that killed thousands in Turkey and Syria in 2023, raises questions of whether it is dangerous to be a Christian in Turkey today and how hospitable the 99%-Muslim country is to other faiths.
Despite provisions for religious freedom existing on paper in Turkey, Turkish Christians of various denominations today suffer under the weight of government bureaucracy as well as societal pressures. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) says Turkish society has in recent years seen a “marked increase in incidents of vandalism and societal violence against religious minorities.”
“The government also continues to unduly interfere in the internal affairs of religious communities. Religious minorities in Turkey have expressed concerns that governmental rhetoric and policies contribute to an increasingly hostile environment and implicitly encourage acts of societal aggression and violence,” USCIRF says.