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European Court of Human Rights building Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CherryX
European Court of Human Rights building
Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CherryX

Governing officials in Turkey have twice lost cases (in the years 2007 and 2014) at the European Court of Human Rights concerning their compulsory Religious Culture and Knowledge of Ethics classes, as they do not respect the 'freedom of religion or belief' of its citizens; namely, applicable parents, guardians and pupils. In September of 2014, the European Court stated that "Turkey had to remedy the situation without delay." Yet the only course of action thus far had been preparations made by the Education Ministry for a plan involving wide consultation with civil society on the courses in question. This plan is awaiting government approval after the elections.

Another systemic violation of 'freedom of religion or belief' in the educational system involves the country's optional lessons in Islam which many have found are, in reality, "compulsory optional." Fear of discrimination and harassment from teachers and other pupils, as well as the slowness of the legal system, are the main reasons many people have not taken legal action to protect their rights. Unless effective protection of 'freedom of religion or belief' in education is implemented, the state will continue to lose such cases before the European Court. For more on the challenges facing believers in this country, go to this page.

As Turkish Christians seek the Lord's counsel, we ask Him to alleviate their fears and embolden them to voice their concerns in love. May they continue trusting Him to transform the hearts of government officials and school administrators so a curriculum that does not dishonour Him and His followers will be effectively implemented. Pray that the religious freedom of believers will increase in Turkey, and that they will be able to use this freedom to bless others through evangelism, discipleship, hospitality and other forms of fellowship.

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Country Information

82,482,383 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Turkish (70-75), Kurdish (19), other minorities (7-12)

Religion (%)
Islam (99.8), other (0.2)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2014)

Government type
Parliamentary republic

Legal system
Civil law system derived from various European continental legal systems

Sources: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Turkey

Prayerfully uphold those who have had their churches and places of worship taken over by a government that does not represent their beliefs, values or ordinances. Ask the Lord to oversee the mediation process as church officials and government representatives endeavour to work out a solution that is both honouring to Him and fair to all the members of the various churches. Despite the challenges experienced by the believers of this country, may they have a sense of God's reassuring presence and peace, knowing that one day He will reign supremely and justly over the entire earth.


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Turkey News

  • Foreign Christian Workers Expelled
    Joy Subasiguller - Photo: Facebook / Joy Subasiguller
    Joy Subaşıgüller and her family
    Photo: Facebook / Joy Subaşıgüller

    Last year, at least thirty-five foreign Christian workers were expelled from Turkey, as their permits had been either revoked or denied renewal. So far this year, the number of those forced to leave the country has already reached si

  • Teacher Dismissed for Social Media Posts
    Kusadasi, Turkey
    Kusadasi, Turkey
    Photo: Wikipedia / jpitha (c)

    A Christian teacher has been dismissed from her teaching job after the press accused her of conducting missionary activities through social media. Esma Bağci Kaya had been teaching religion and morality at the Hasan Fatma Onal Anadolu High School, a pr

  • Entry Ban on Christian Workers

    For years, Turkey has placed restrictions on religious leadership training. As a result, many pastors in the country have been foreign nationals. However, new visa restrictions are now being placed on foreign religious workers entering the country.

  • Verdict Upheld in Malatya Murder Case
    Ugur Yuksel, Necati Aydin and Tillman Geske
    Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tillman Geske

    On April 18th, 2007, three Christian workers at a publishing house in Malatya, Turkey, were tortured and murdered (see this report). Ultimately five men were convicted and given three consecutive life sentences. Although an appeal was heard on January 23r