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Turkey

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This ancient Christian church in Trabzon has been registered as a mosque 
Alaexis / CC BY-SA 3.0

The efforts of Turkey’s government to Islamise Turkish politics and society suffered two major setbacks in 2013. The fall of Islamist regimes in Egypt and Tunisia undermined Turkey’s claim that modern and democratic institutions could be successfully combined with the values of political Islam. And large-scale demonstrations against the government’s Islamisation programme underlined widespread popular discontent with its vigorous attempts to promote Islam.

However, the country’s small Christian minority is still labouring under crippling government restrictions. All religious activity is closely supervised by the state, and the rights of churches to own property, conduct services and open other facilities are severely limited. Difficulties are also made for them in managing their own internal governance, training their leaders and undertaking evangelism and religious education. Some theological schools have been closed down. Controls are especially tight on members of non-traditional denominations.

Many Turkish Muslims regard Islam as an essential part of national identity, and as a result Christians (and other minorities) are regarded with suspicion or outright hostility. They suffer discrimination and harassment, and occasional but sometimes serious acts of violence. A number of ministers and Christian workers have been murdered, and in 2013 a plot to kill a pastor in Izmit was foiled only by counter-terrorism units. Converts from Islam are also particularly vulnerable, as are Christians who share their faith or teach Christianity to children. Christians are often portrayed very negatively in the media and in school textbooks.

Islamists also appear intent on erasing visible evidence of Turkey’s Christian past. In 2013 an ancient Byzantine church in Trabzon, which had been in secular use, was registered as a mosque and its Christian-themed mosaics hidden from view.

Present-day Turkey includes the area where the seven churches of Revelation are located. Turkey, known to the Romans as “Asia Minor”, saw Christianity spread rapidly during the first century after Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was here that several of the early Christian communities, such as the Ephesians and the Galatians, were found. The city of Istanbul used to be Constantinople, the capital of the Christian Byzantine Empire.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • Praise God that local police in the village of Tehsil Summodri, Faisalabad District, Pakistan acted to withdraw false allegations of blasphemy against 31 Christians and 23 other villagers. The allegations under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (which carries a mandatory death sentence) were made on 2 September when Christians were ploughing a piece of land given to them for free by its Muslim owner to extend the local Christian cemetery. A group of Muslims accused them of desecrating Muslim graves. The police investigation revealed that the land had been a Muslim cemetery many years earlier but the graves had been moved elsewhere. They changed the charges to the lesser ones under Section 297 (which carries a maximum prison sentence of one year or a fine). It is very unusual for the Pakistani police to defend the rights of Christians in this way. Pray that others will follow their example. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 8 hours ago

    • School text-books in Turkey are still teaching that the Armenians and most other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire a century ago were agents of enemy foreign powers such as Britain and Russia. This, the books say, was the reason for what they call the “necessary deportation” of the Christians. Turkey still does not accept blame for the deaths of at least 1.5 million Armenian and Assyrian Christians, many massacred or dying of deprivation as they were force-marched out of their homeland. Next year, 2015, is the 100th anniversary of the worst year of the Armenian and Assyrian Genocide. Please pray that the innocent suffering of these faithful believers will be recognised by every country and that the world will resolve never to let such a genocide happen again. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Pray for 27 Christians, believed to be from various Asian countries, who were detained overnight by the Saudi authorities on 5 September for worshipping at a private home in Khafji. The home had been under surveillance since a neighbour had reported suspicious activities there. Pray that the Lord will protect His people in Saudi Arabia, where it is illegal to practise a non-Islamic religion in public but supposedly permissible to do so in private. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Wao, a predominantly Christian town on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, is protesting against its inclusion in the new semi-independent Islamic region of Bangsamoro. Wao’s mayor, Elvino Balicao, is seeking exemption from the Bangsamoro government and its Islamic law and has asked that the town remain under the central government. He said that the town is 83% Christian and that local churches support exemption from Bangsamoro. Wao is in the centre of the Muslim-majority province of Lanao del Sur. Pray that the Lord will protect His people and that Wao will gain exemption from the Bangsamoro government. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Our Father in Heaven, we lift up our brothers and sisters serving sentences in labour camps in North Korea, whether foreigners like Kenneth Bae from the USA, or the far greater number of North Korean believers whose names we do not know but You do. Please pour out Your grace into their lives as they suffer hunger, exhaustion, pain and imprisonment for the sake of Christ. May they continue steadfast in their faith, loving their enemies and praying for their persecutors. May their Christ-like lives draw other North Koreans to You. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Nov 2014 00:00

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