How many Christians are there in Turkey?
The number of Christians in comparison to the total population of Turkey is tiny; just 173,000 Christians out of 83 million people – the majority of whom are Muslims. They make up around 0.2 per cent of the population. Most Christians in Turkey are expatriates, including thousands of refugees from bordering countries, like Syria and Iraq.
Why are Christians persecuted in Turkey?
The strong religious nationalism in society puts a lot of pressure on Christians – it is widely believed that a true Turk must be a Sunni Muslim.
This religious nationalism has grown to new heights after the failed coup of 2016. President Erdogan has used the situation to enlarge his power and position, beginning to transform Turkey from a secular state into a Sunni Muslim one, leaving little space for minorities.
What’s life like for Christians in Turkey?
Christians from Muslim backgrounds often hide their faith. If they are discovered, they will face pressure from their families – leaving Islam is seen as a betrayal of their Turkish identity and a source of shame to the family. They may be threatened with divorce and the loss of inheritance rights.
Although converts from Islam can legally change their religious affiliation on ID cards, it can be a difficult and stressful process. Those from ethnic minorities such as Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Syriac Christians experience discrimination in the workplace, especially where employers have ties to the government. Religious affiliation is recorded on ID cards, so it is easy to discriminate against Christian applicants.
Open Doors is raising prayer for believers in Turkey.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the faith and courage of our sisters and brothers in Turkey. Protect those who must hide their faith from their families, and strengthen believers who are discriminated against in the workplace. Remind them of Your love and the value that they hold in Your eyes.