More on freedom on religion in Turkey, that "moderate" Islamic country. CNN.com:
Found at DeLapsis.Turkey's once-flourishing Greek community is fading away. The country is predominantly Muslim and led by a secular government that's had a complicated relationship with the patriarchate.If Turkish laws, demographics and attitudes aren't changed, Bartholomew could ultimately be the last Patriarch of Constantinople."We are not all in despair for the future of our church," Bartholomew said. "It is not easy, but it is not impossible."The Turkish government can veto any candidate put forward for the position of patriarch. And it requires the patriarch be a Turkish citizen. Bartholomew is, but most of those best qualified to succeed him are not.So the government has proposed offering Turkish citizenship to Orthodox archbishops overseas. Several have applied; so far, none has been approved.The Turkish government also refuses to recognize the title Ecumenical Patriarch, or Bartholomew's role as an international religious leader. (NOTE: There are approx 250 million Orthodox in the world whose visible head is Patriarch Bartholomew).
Officially, he is viewed as a local bishop who leads a shrinking community of a few thousand Greek Orthodox citizens. Yorgo Stefanopulos is one of them. "I am a curiosity now in Turkey," he said. "We used to be a minority; now we are a curiosity."Stefanopulos is an outspoken leader of Istanbul's Greek community. About 50 years ago, that community numbered more than 100,000. Today, it's probably less than 3,000.He insists that decline was not accidental. Instead, he blames the Turkish government. Decades ago, he said, they targeted ethnic Greeks with nationalist policies, like wealth taxes, property seizures, and campaigns to speak only Turkish in the streets.Then there was the pogrom in 1955: riots directed against Greeks and Greek-owned property. The violence was later found to have been orchestrated by Turkish authorities.As a result, Greeks left Istanbul in droves. "The Turkish government somehow managed to do a bloodless ethnic cleansing," Stefanopulos said. Today's Turkish government says those events are from the distant past, and they're now looking ahead to reconciliation."Turkey is going through a period of transition," said Egemen Bagis, the country's Minister for European Union Affairs. "Turkey's becoming a much more democratic, much more prosperous, much more transparent society."Yet, the government has resisted calls to reopen the patriarchate's main school of theology.For more than a century, the Halki seminary educated future Greek Orthodox bishops, theologians and patriarchs, until Turkey's highest court ordered it closed in 1971. Since then, it's remained empty, worrying former students like theologian Satirios Varnalidis.
Note: This article was published some days ago, but I forgot to post it, despite its importance.
Related: Turkey: Islamism's consequences for the West..