From a Turk Living in The U.S.
An NRO reader who followed the link below writes:
My blood boils when I read stories like this. It is certainly embarrassing and saddening to me as a Turk who truly believes and also knows the Turkish people and their desire to be part of the European community of nations. Stories like this give plenty of ammunition to groups who want nothing but to see Turkey sidelined and excluded from the block of civilized nations.
I personally know a handful of missionaries in Izmir, Turkey who are absolutely terrified that Turkish authorities are going prosecute them for doing nothing but preaching their faith or holding Bible study classes in their own home. They have already been banned from holding classes in their own home but the authorities have made it extremely difficult to meet on private property in the city, so they are being forced to hold meetings outside the city.
I think this is more a problem with the local authorities than with the Turkish society in general. All Turks I know are very tolerant and open-minded to outside cultural activities. The local authorities are the ones living out their prejudices in exercising their official powers to make life miserable to anyone who dares preach another religion. Unfortunately, I believe the national leaders either don’t know the extent of what’s going on or are too ignorant to do anything to reign in the local authorities. They just don’t realize how even one little incident speaks volumes to people in western countries in which the only news they hear about this country are these kinds of negative stories.
For all it’s progressiveness in many areas, Turkey has a long way to go when it comes to respecting and enforcing religious freedoms.