Last weekend, the Blogland discussed one recent example of the inequitable treatment of Christians in Turkey, a nation which is attempting to convince the West that, like those who want to build an Islamic mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, that all they want is tolerance and equality.
While Turkey, which seeks to join the European Union, has talked a big game about wanting to co-exist with the Christian West, it's real record on religious tolerance is rather appalling in that regard, and is certainly far less than the efforts by which President Obama has made on behalf of the Ground Zero mosque initative.
A warning of just how little tolerance can be expected from Muslims can be found in the controversy stirred up by recent comments by Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, during an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes”:
Orthodox Christians are treated as second-class citizens in Turkey and sometimes he feels “crucified”.
(Turkish) Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu regarded the comment as “an undesired slip of the tongue” and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinc dismissed the criticism as “unacceptable”. But despite the furore the interview has once again shed light on Turkey’s treatment of minorities.
It should be noted that Turkey’s definition of ‘minority’ differs from Europe’s. According to the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), which delineates the borders of modern Turkey, minorities are defined as non-Muslim. But the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1995), which Turkey has not signed, applies ethnic, linguistic and cultural criteria.
Other groups have asked for the return of the Hagia Sophia - Church of the Holy Wisdom - which is located in Istanbul. This church was the most revered of Christian churches in the East for over 1000 years before the fall of Constantinople saw its conversion to a mosque. In recent years, the church was taken over by the Turkish government and is now a little-used museum, so its return seems a relatively simple task - assuming the desire for "tolerance" and respect for Christians was genuine.
Such calls have gone unheeded and the few gestures towards tolerance for Christians remain limited and mostly symbolic in nature, which seems par the course for those who claim to want to co-exist with predominantly-Christian nations. Such actions tend to build support for those who claim accomodations for muslims would be ill-advised.
Given President Obama's one-sided view of religious intolerance, we're guessing either he didn't discuss the subject during his visit with His Eminence, or didn't care what was said. But this is par the course for the administration which will never let truth get in the way of a great speech.