Religious Freedom Issues In Turkey

Turkey has been ruled for seven years by the Justice and Development Party(AKP) which historically has argued for a strong religious presence in the nation. Although Christians, in theory, have complete religious freedom, there are still numerous incidents of attacks on Christian churches. Last week, an historic religious service was held at the Sumeia Monastery and local Muslims were supportive of the event. The government also gave support to services held at the Armenian Church of the Holy Cross. It was an important event for Armenians when this church was restored by the government to its original beauty. Some Armenians are upset that the church is now more of an historic museum than an ongoing house of worship. Many observers believe there is a significant bloc of Turks who still harbor reservations about complete religious freedom for non-Muslims.

An important religious groups which still feels left out of the process of religious freedom are the Alevis. They derive from the Muslim religion and they continue encountering prejudice and hindrance to being able to practice freedom of religion. They are not even recognized as a distinct group which should be afforded the right to have their own houses of worship and be provided equal rights.

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