Friday, October 16, 2015

Anti-Semitism on rise in 'Islamist' Turkey: US report.


Anti-Semitism on rise in 'Islamist' Turkey: US report. (USDep).

Anti-Semitism has risen in recent years in Turkey, a U.S. State Department report has said, adding that the Turkish government has continued to discriminate against its non-Sunni Muslim citizens.

“Elected officials engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric,” said the annual International Religious Freedom Report for 2014 released on Oct. 14 by the U.S. Department of State, adding that during Israel’s ground operation in Gaza in July 2014 then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan and several senior government officials publicly made anti-Semitic statements as well as generalized statements against Jews.

The constitution defines the country as a secular state, provides for freedom of religion, conscience, religious belief, conviction, expression, and worship, and prohibits discrimination based on religious grounds. Religious matters are coordinated and governed by the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) whose mandate is to promote Sunni Islam. Elected officials engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric. In July, when protests over the conflict in Gaza were occurring, several senior government officials made anti-Semitic statements. For example, on July 19, then-Prime Minister Erdogan stated, “Those who condemn Hitler – day and night – have surpassed Hitler in barbarism.” The government continued to discriminate against Alevi Muslims, including by refusing to recognize their places of worship or exempt their children from compulsory Sunni Islamic instruction. The right to conscientious objection to military service was not protected. Trials continued for the May killing of an Alevi by a policeman and the 2011 death of an Armenian-Turkish soldier at the hands of another soldier. The government continued to prosecute individuals for “openly disrespecting” Islamic beliefs, although convictions in such cases resulted in suspended sentences. The government continued to limit the rights of non-Muslim minorities, especially those it did not recognize as being covered by the 1923 Lausanne Treaty. Despite expressions of support from high-level government officials, there was no progress regarding the reopening of Halki Seminary. The government continued to train Sunni Muslim clerics, while restricting other religious groups from training clerics inside the country. It continued to fund the construction of Sunni mosques while restricting land use of other religious groups, although it did return parcels of land to the Syriac Orthodox community.
There was a sharp increase in anti-Semitic protests and anti-Semitic statements in mass and social media during the conflict in Gaza in July, accompanied by violence against Israeli diplomatic properties and threats of violence against the country’s Jews. The Jewish community expressed growing concern and unease over these incidents. Members of a Catholic congregation in Istanbul were threatened by reputed Sunni radicals and church property was vandalized. A Ja’fari imam was threatened in Istanbul, and the mosque where he preached was vandalized and burned.
U.S. government officials at the highest level engaged with government leaders to address religious freedom issues. The President discussed with President Erdogan the importance of combating anti-Semitism. The Vice President and the Secretary of State called again for the reopening of the Greek Orthodox seminary on Halki. The Ambassador, visiting U.S. officials, and embassy officers stressed the need to lift restrictions on religious groups and raised issues of property restitution and specific cases of religious discrimination. Embassy and consulate representatives regularly met with members of religious communities to promote dialogue and tolerance.
- See more at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm#wrapper
The report said there was a sharp increase in anti-Semitic protests and statements in mass and social media during the Gaza conflict, accompanied by threats of violence against Turkey’s Jews.

The constitution defines the country as a secular state, provides for freedom of religion, conscience, religious belief, conviction, expression, and worship, and prohibits discrimination based on religious grounds.

Religious matters are coordinated and governed by the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) whose mandate is to promote Sunni Islam.

Elected officials engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric. In July, when protests over the conflict in Gaza were occurring, several senior government officials made anti-Semitic statements. For example, on July 19, then-Prime Minister Erdogan stated, “Those who condemn Hitler – day and night – have surpassed Hitler in barbarism.”

The government continued to discriminate against Alevi Muslims, including by refusing to recognize their places of worship or exempt their children from compulsory Sunni Islamic instruction.

The right to conscientious objection to military service was not protected. Trials continued for the May killing of an Alevi by a policeman and the 2011 death of an Armenian-Turkish soldier at the hands of another soldier.

The government continued to prosecute individuals for “openly disrespecting” Islamic beliefs, although convictions in such cases resulted in suspended sentences.

The government continued to limit the rights of non-Muslim minorities, especially those it did not recognize as being covered by the 1923 Lausanne Treaty. Despite expressions of support from high-level government officials, there was no progress regarding the reopening of Halki Seminary.

The government continued to train Sunni Muslim clerics, while restricting other religious groups from training clerics inside the country. It continued to fund the construction of Sunni mosques while restricting land use of other religious groups, although it did return parcels of land to the Syriac Orthodox community.

There was a sharp increase in anti-Semitic protests and anti-Semitic statements in mass and social media during the conflict in Gaza in July, accompanied by violence against Israeli diplomatic properties and threats of violence against the country’s Jews. The Jewish community expressed growing concern and unease over these incidents. Members of a Catholic congregation in Istanbul were threatened by reputed Sunni radicals and church property was vandalized. A Ja’fari imam was threatened in Istanbul, and the mosque where he preached was vandalized and burned.

U.S. government officials at the highest level engaged with government leaders to address religious freedom issues.

The President discussed with President Erdogan the importance of combating anti-Semitism.

The Vice President and the Secretary of State called again for the reopening of the Greek Orthodox seminary on Halki. The Ambassador, visiting U.S. officials, and embassy officers stressed the need to lift restrictions on religious groups and raised issues of property restitution and specific cases of religious discrimination. Embassy and consulate representatives regularly met with members of religious communities to promote dialogue and tolerance.

The Turkish government, the report also stated, has continued to discriminate against Alevi Muslims, including by refusing to recognize their places of worship or exempt their children from compulsory Sunni Islamic instruction. It particularly cited the Turkish constitution, which theoretically defines Turkey as a secular state, provides for freedom of religion, conscience, religious belief, conviction, expression, and worship, and prohibits discrimination based on religious grounds.

“The government continued not to recognize Alevi houses of worship (cemevis) and Alevis continued to experience difficulty obtaining exemptions from mandatory religion classes,” the report added.

Given the rights of non-Muslim minorities limited by the Turkish government, the report said the state continued to provide training for Sunni Muslim clerics while restricting other religious groups from training clerics inside the country, citing requirements imposed by the Higher Education Board.

The GreekOrthodox and Armenian Orthodox Patriarchates were unable to train their clerics in monastic seminaries within the country,” it added.

Although registration with the government is not mandatory for religious groups, unregistered religious groups cannot request legal recognition for places of worship. Holding religious services at a location not recognized as a place of worship is illegal and may be punished with fines or closure of the venue. All organizations, including religious groups, can register as associations or foundations. Religious groups must associate themselves with a charitable or cultural cause in order to register as either type of entity. Religious community foundations are the only religious groups permitted to own real estate. - See more at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm#wrapper
Although registration with the government is not mandatory for religious groups, unregistered religious groups cannot request legal recognition for places of worship. Holding religious services at a location not recognized as a place of worship is illegal and may be punished with fines or closure of the venue. All organizations, including religious groups, can register as associations or foundations. Religious groups must associate themselves with a charitable or cultural cause in order to register as either type of entity. Religious community foundations are the only religious groups permitted to own real estate. - See more at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm#wrapper
Although registration with the government is not mandatory for religious groups, unregistered religious groups cannot request legal recognition for places of worship. Holding religious services at a location not recognized as a place of worship is illegal and may be punished with fines or closure of the venue.

All organizations, including religious groups, can register as associations or foundations. Religious groups must associate themselves with a charitable or cultural cause in order to register as either type of entity. Religious community foundations are the only religious groups permitted to own real estate. Read the full report here.-


Related:    'Islamist' Turkey - Removal of financial assistance to minority ethnic and religious newspapers.

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