The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) publishes annual report on global religious freedom

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a federal government commission that monitors global religious freedom, has released its 2012 Annual Report and recommends the following nations “countries of particular concern”:

Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

The report can be found here and is a big beast at 337 pages in PDF format.

It’s worth noting that although Christians are far from the only religious group persecuted in these countries, Christians are the only group persecuted in each and every one of them.

Unsurprisingly the report identifies intensifying persecution in the Muslim world.

It’s also worth noting that Turkey is on the list, a NATO member seeking entry into the EU. The inclusion of Turkey has, and will, cause controversy and four commissioners dissented from this recommendation. However, Turkey has been included due to their ongoing persecution of Christians through legal and bureaucratic mechanisms:

In casting my vote to put Turkey on the Uscirf black list, I could not forget the urgent words of a senior Christian religious leader in Turkey, who, out of fear, requested anonymity: “We are an endangered species here in Turkey.” Despite ten years of rule, despite its revolutionary measures in other spheres, such as in the economy, and despite its powerful mandate from the 2011 elections, AK Party’s government has failed to take critical actions in favor of religious freedom. Specifically, it has failed to rescind the regulatory regime that is contributing to its Christian minorities’ steady decline into statistical insignificance, now numbering a mere 0.15 percent.

Turkey’s Christian minorities struggle to find places in which they can worship, are denied seminaries in which to train future leaders, are barred from wearing clerical garb in public, see the trials of the murderers of their prominent members end with impunity, and, above all, lack the legal right to be recognized as churches so that their members can be assured of their rights to gather freely in sacred spaces for religious marriages, funerals, and baptisms, and otherwise carry out the full practice of their respective religions.

Turkey’ s laws, aimed at promoting extreme secular nationalism, also encourage a culture of animosity toward Christians, who are seen to undermine “Turkishness,” despite Christianity’ s 2,000-year presence there. Even starting a discussion about the genocide of Christians that occurred 100 years ago is a criminal offense in Turkey. Armenian editor Hrant Dink, who was assassinated in 2006, was himself convicted of “insulting Turkishness” for trying to do so.


Remember this when considering booking your holiday to Turkey.

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