Announcement Coincides with Events Celebrating Religious Freedom Abuses
09/01/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on Aug. 30, 2021, Turkey’s President Erdoğan announced the groundbreaking of “Crescent Star Compound” in Ankara as a new home for the defense ministry.
The announcement occurred during the celebration of Victory Day, which marks the conclusion of the genocide against Greek Christians (1912-1922) and ran parallel to the genocide of Armenian and Assyrian Christians. The announcement also coincides with strong current efforts by Turkey to legitimize the Taliban in Afghanistan, an extremist group whose takeover has forced Christians to flee or go into hiding.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Erdoğan boasted, “We will be establishing a structure here which will strike fear to our enemies with its standing and give confidence to our friends. I believe that monumental structures like the presidential complex [and] Crescent Star project are also symbols of our nation, displaying power while serving their fundamental purpose.”
The announcement of a new defense home concludes a month of claimed victory for Turkey. Just six days prior, the country celebrated their successful invasion in 1071 of what was then a Christian Turkey. In his speech, Erdoğan said, “these lands, which were made our home with the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, are our eternal homeland… The spirit, belief and will that inspired the Great Victory are drawing the direction for our nation today, just as it did 99 years ago.”
These kinds of celebrations can cause concern for the Christians population. A Turkish convert shared with ICC, “I became a Christian and immediately felt like I betrayed my country. I still feel that way… Turkish people believe that if you aren’t Muslim, you’re an enemy.”
As further evidence, Turkey used the announcement of the Crescent Star Compound to update the state protocol, placing the country’s top imam and head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (the Diyanet) ahead of the Chief of General Staff. This reshuffle further underscores the message that Turkey is using its Islamic religious identity as a priority driving military affairs.
Such a move tracks with a recent report released by ICC. The report states, “Turkey’s military expansionism has had the impact of exploiting people, exporting (religious) persecution, and enabling the perpetrators to commit even more egregious actions. If this is how Turkey treats vulnerable communities outside of its own borders, then how much more so within.”
Turkey’s new military compound adds further weight towards the country’s so-far successful attempts to establish itself as a regional superpower. President Erdoğan has made clear his long-term goals for Neo-Ottomanism, and is attempting to use Afghanistan to bring conflicting extremist groups within a type of Islamic umbrella headed by Turkey.
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, said “Turkey’s military expansion across the Middle East has always brought significant religious freedom violations, a situation which has scaled up significantly since the Afghanistan crisis. While it is not surprising that Turkey is opening a new military compound, the situation surrounding the announcement further adds weight contextualizing how Turkey is using their military activities to push an agenda that ultimately leads to the exclusion and elimination of regional Christians.”
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