The country’s Association of Protestant Churches reports continuing hate crimes against Christians in 2017.
On 20 July 2017, a New Testament Bible was burned in front of the Izmir Yeni Dogus church, its ashes left at the church’s door. The wall of the Balikesir Church was defaced with an Islamic slogan on the night of 28 July 2017, and on 7 December, its pastor received an anonymous death threat.
In the news and on social media, the Association showed that hate speech against Christians increased. In the cities of Izmir, Balikesir, Samsun and Van, media publications attempted to incite the public against Christians by trying to connect churches with terror organisations. Media outlets displayed New Testaments alongside “terrorist propaganda.” During 2017’s Christmas and New Year season, some billboards, posters, brochures, news articles, and television programmes propagated hate-filled slogans against Christmas and New Year. Some Christians who worked as public officials in Izmir, Istanbul and Diyarbakir were informed that they would be sacked, because of their faith.
Protestant community representatives were also not invited by the government or official organisations to its meetings with religious groups during the year.
Despite the secular constitution’s provision for religious freedom, and the increasingly authoritarian President Erdogan’s trumpeting of a “culture of tolerance” in the country, Turkey’s Protestant Christians report that they live in a climate of increasing hate crime and hate speech.