Over the past month, fifteen Turkish Protestant congregations and their leaders have been receiving death threats through their Facebook accounts, emails, websites and mobile telephones.
The threats follow the style and jargon typically used by ISIL, vowing to kill, massacre and behead those who the messages accused of having “chosen the path that denies Allah” and “dragged others into believing as you do … As heretics you have increased your numbers with ignorant followers”.
In a press release on 1st September, the Association of Protestant Christians in Turkey said: “Threats are not anything new for the Protestant community who live in this country and want to raise their children here. But with the recent increase in systematic threats, … in different cities, we think that these messages, coming close together and resembling each other, are coming from the same source.”
Most of the messages included a direct quote from the Al-Ahzab chapter of the Quran, which threatens “those who spread false news… Accursed, they shall be seized wherever found and killed with a horrible slaughter.”
A link was also posted for an Arabic video, subtitled in Turkish on YouTube entitled, “The religious proofs why apostates should be killed”.
One pastor, who received treats by email and SMS messages, told World Watch Monitor, “They are saying things like they had been waiting for us to return to Islam, and that we are responsible for other Muslims turning to Christ, that our time is up and that Allah will give them our heads”.
In contrast to most Muslim-majority nations, Turkish citizens have the legal right to change their religious identity or leave blank the religion column on their identity cards, and the majority of Turkish Protestant congregations are Muslim Background believers.
- Pray for Turkey’s Christian community, for protection and for courage in the face of these threats.
- Pray for the Government of Turkey as it faces new elections, to also be proactive in protecting it’s Christian minority communities from threats and persecution.
- Pray for the Church across Turkey, to grow in faith, be strong and for many in this country to have encounters with Christ and follow Him.
John 16 vs 33: “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’ “