Over the past several years Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pressured Greece to construct a mosque in Athens. He has criticized the country which boasts the only European capital without a mosque. He does not hide his passion for mosques worldwide.
In 2015 Erdogan proposed the construction of a mosque in secular, Communist-ruled Cuba. Also in 2015, he went to Moscow for the inauguration of the biggest mosque in the Russian capital.
Earlier this year Erdogan pleasantly announced his presence at the opening of the biggest mosque in Amsterdam. The mosque is called "Hagia Sophia,"
named after a Greek Orthodox Christian basilica built in 537 AD in
Constantinople, reflecting the typical Muslim extremist obsession with
"conquest." Recently Erdogan has also been eyeing Iraq.
As recently as April, Erdogan attended the opening ceremony of a
culture center and mosque in Maryland, United States. The complex, the
only one in the United States to feature two minarets, was constructed
in the style of 16th century Ottoman architecture, with a central dome,
half domes and cupolas, echoing Istanbul's Suleymaniye Mosque. At the
ceremony, Erdogan said:
"Unfortunately, we are going through a rough time all around the world.
Intolerance towards Muslims is on the rise not only here in the United
States but also around the globe." Intolerance toward Muslims?
Back in Turkey, an article published in the monthly magazine of the
country's powerful (and wealthy) Islamic Directorate for Religious
Affairs (Diyanet in Turkish) warned of the spreading
new "religion" of Jediism -- the religion of the Jedi knights from the
Star Wars film series. But not all "religious tolerance" stories in
Turkey are equally off the wall.
Synagogues in Turkey have quietly tightened security. Scholar Rifat
Bali, who has written several books on Turkey's Jews, says that
Christians and Jews are being targeted.
Indeed, threats against Christians and churches on social media by
Islamists in Turkey have intensified. "Some people have sent death
threats to the mobile phones of 15 pastors," says Umut Sahin, the
secretary-general of the Union of Protestant Churches, an umbrella
organization for Protestant denominations in Turkey.
Andrew Craig Brunson, pastor at a protestant church in Izmir, on Turkey's Aegean coast, survived an armed attack
on April 11, 2011. The attacker, Mehmet Ali Eren, shouted: "Traitors!
We'll bomb your church!" Eren had just been acquitted in a trial on
charges of being a member of al-Qaeda.
Brunson and his wife, Norine Lyn, have been living in Turkey for 20
years. On October 7, the couple was summoned to a police station. The
police told them that they would be deported from Turkey
because they "posed a national security threat" to the country. A
two-member terror organization? Bombings and killings? Not exactly that,
the police explained. The pastor and his wife were being expelled on
grounds of posing a security threat because they had carried out
"missionary activity and received money from sources abroad."
There must be merely a few thousand Protestants in Turkey, a country
of nearly 80 million people, where politicians often boast that 99% of
the population is Muslim. Why do nearly 80 million people view a few
thousand people as threats to their national security just because the
few thousand belong to a different faith? This question probably falls
not into the scope of theological discipline, nor political science, but
But there is a more serious aspect of this limitless Islamic
hypocrisy. Erdogan should explain why he persistently demands more and
more tolerance for Muslims living in non-Muslim lands, including the
building of mosques in every capital, while his government can deport
two Protestants on the spurious grounds that they pose a security threat
to his country. The Islamophobia that Erdogan never ceases to claim
exists in the Western world may or may not be a real social malady, but
non-Muslimphobia in Turkey is increasingly a contagious malady.
Erdogan's determined denials do not make him right; instead he further
proves his religious-ideological incompatibility with Western