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‘HALC’ urges reassessment of Turkey’s religious freedom status

The Hellenic-American Leadership Council (HALC) has called for a review of Turkey’s position in the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, published by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. HALC has proposed that Turkey be included in the “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) list.

The US Commission, an independent federal government body advising both the State Department and Congress on global religious freedom protection, recently recommended Turkey’s inclusion in the “Special Watch List” for nations violating religious freedoms.

“Turkey must be properly categorised as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ (CPC),” HALC emphasised. “Recent actions by Turkey have raised serious concerns, especially regarding the treatment of Christian communities and cultural heritage sites.”

The US Commission previously designated Turkey as a CPC in 2012, citing “systematic and egregious restrictions on religious freedom affecting all religious communities in Turkey.” HALC noted that the situation today is far worse than in 2012.

In its letter, HALC highlights Turkey’s recent conversion of historic Christian monuments into mosques, such as the recent transformation of the Monastery of Chora, despite international appeals for their preservation. This trend underscores Turkey’s disregard for religious freedoms and cultural heritage.

HALC also urges the commission to resume reporting on Christians and Christian heritage sites in occupied Cyprus, emphasizing the continued erosion of religious freedom by the Turkish government.

“We call on the Commission to reconsider Turkey’s classification and designate it as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ due to ongoing threats to religious freedom both within its borders and in the occupied part of Cyprus,” HALC stated.