Power shifts in Turkey make local believers wary

Turkey (MNN) — Miles Windsor of Middle East Concern says that as Turkey recovers from last summer’s coup, the government is taking some concerning steps to ensure safety for the country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Image Courtesy: World Economic Forum, Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic | Wikimedia Commons)

“There are certain measures being taken such as a removal of the Prime Ministerial role, which has been scrapped and replaced with new Vice Presidential roles. The President has become the head of the Executive as well as the head of the State, and he will receive sweeping powers to appoint ministers and enact certain laws by decree,” explained Windsor. “On paper, it’s a move from a parliamentary republic to a presidential republic.”

The problem? The timing. “A lot of this might not be so concerning apart from the backdrop and the precedence that we’ve seen in Turkey in recent times,” said Windsor. Hundreds of journalists have been arrested and media outlets shut down, and Windsor describes a “sweeping purge of people who might be considered opponents to President Erdogan and his agenda.

“In the course of this extraordinary situation, more than 40,000 people have been imprisoned and 140,000 have been fired or suspended from work.”

And it’s especially disconcerting for Christians.

“They’re not currently the focus of these purges,” Windsor said, “but I think there is a fear that this will eventually be focused on them as well.”

“There’ve been undertones of accusations against Christians and against the Church suggesting, rather ludicrously, that the Church is, in some way, in league with Fethullah Gülen, a figure who is accused of being at the heart of the coup attempt,” Windsor said.

(Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)

According to Windsor, the same terminology describing association with armed terrorist groups is being used in cases like American Pastor Andrew Brunson’s, and it has Christians nervous.

What’s more, “It’s a very difficult situation to influence,” said Windsor. “Whenever the U.S. or the European Union says anything or encourages a change of direction from Turkey, what you tend to see is the opposite from Turkey. They don’t appreciate the criticism.”

That’s why indigenous believers are asking for prayer. “Prayer is the most powerful thing we can be doing — praying for justice, praying that God would be changing the hearts of the people who are involved in this situation.”

Find out more about the situation in Turkey here.