Christians In Turkey: Attacked, Deported And Seen As A 'Threat Against National Security'

A security camera captures Muslim radicals attacking a church building in Samsun, Turkey.(Christian Aid Mission)

Churches face serious terror threats in Turkey, where hate speech against Christians in social and conventional media has increased and Church figures are being deported, according to the country's Association of Protestant Churches.

The findings come in a Human Rights Violations report for 2016, which especially highlighted hate speech incidents around Christmas and New Year's Eve, conveyed through billboard advertisements, posters, leaflets, and online.

According to the report, Protestant religious officials have been handled by the government as a "threat against national security" and some have been deported.

Anteb church leader Patric Jansen was not allowed to enter Turkey on August 26, 2016 because he was regarded by officials as a "threat against national security".

Andrew Craig Brunson, the leader of İzmir Resurrection Church, was detained to be deported and kept in a repatriation centre for 64 days. His request to leave the country voluntarily was denied and was again arrested on December 9.

Ryan Keating, who is affiliated with the Ankara Salvation Church, was leaving Turkey on October 8, 2016 to attend a conference abroad when he was informed at the airport that his residence permit was cancelled and that he posed a "threat against national security". He was told he would not be able to return to Turkey.

The report also charts a number of other persecution incidents, including an amateur theatrical act on a street in the Nazilli district of the western province of Aydın, in which a group of traditionally costumed men were recorded holding another man dressed as Santa Claus at gunpoint on December 28, 2016.

It further covers multiple protests and attacks against Protestants in Turkey, including on February 25 when a group broke the surveillance camera of Samsun Protestant church and tried to enter; on March 31 when police tightened security around all churches and Protestant institutions in Turkey, especially the Protestant church in Ankara and Radio Shema because of potential terrorist threats; and on November 22 when the pastor of the Protestant church in Çanakkale was threatened over the phone.

Around 98 per cent of Turkey's population is Muslim.