TURKEY: Why is it now so dangerous for Christians?

Christians are the most persecuted group in the world reaching near genocidal levels. In certain parts of the world such as the Middle East Christians are nearly wiped out.

I am a Christian convert from Iran. I grew up as a Muslim in Iran and became a follower of Christ in America at the age of nine. When I went back to Iran in 2001 (at the age of 24), I saw firsthand how Christians inside of Iran were tortured, imprisoned and killed because of their faith in Jesus. My involvement in one of the largest and fastest growing underground house churches in Iran was exciting, yet it allowed me to see the terrible plight of Christians in the Middle East. I myself was arrested and harassed many times and in 2004 had guns pointed to my head by the Iranian revolutionary guards threatening to rape, torture, and kill me if I did not return to Islam.

For decades, Iranian Christians who feared for their lives could flee to Turkey and then report to the UNHCR where they would be accepted as refugees and relocated to a safe country. Unfortunately, on September 10, 2018 the UNHCR in Turkey stopped handling the cases of those fleeing religious persecution in Iran and other parts of the Middle East. Instead the Turkish government is now responsible for handling asylum applications.

Why? Because President Erdogan believes that, “Democracy is like a train. You get off once you’ve reached your destination.” After years on the train of democracy, Erdoğan and Turkey are finally stepping off. Especially after the failed coup in 2016 Turkey has becoming increasingly hostile to Christians and  Christian converts. More and more Christian converts from Iran are either denied asylum or initially accepted but then ultimately denied and deported back to Iran. Those who remain in Turkey are unable to find jobs not only because of the disdain of the Turkish government and refugees, but Christian converts and ethnic and religious minorities are especially discriminated against.

I received a phone call just this week from one of the Iranian refugees we support in Turkey who was crying because they cannot afford proper heating, and her young son has gotten sick with an infection and been hospitalized for over a week now. Another woman called saying that she too was going without heat at times in the cold winter, and she was getting sick. Life is becoming barely survivable in Turkey for many of these women, especially in the winter months when heating costs become impossible for some.

This is why it is becoming increasingly urgent to address the dire situation of the persecuted Christians in the Middle East who have nowhere to flee. This is also why TAF has worked hard to get some of these persecuted believers to America where they can be safe and are able to freely worship and be a productive part of society.

Neda and Mona are only a few examples of the hundreds of persecuted believers that we serve both inside of Iran and Turkey. These women have answered the call to proclaim the Gospel in one of the hardest places on earth. God is using many of these women to bring awakening to Iran. These persecuted Christians have risked their lives to spread the Gospel, and many of them have been tortured and imprisoned for it. The Iranian government increasingly sees these Christian converts as one of the greatest threats to their national security.

Christian persecution is not only on the rise, but as mentioned earlier it is reaching genocide levels. The time to act is now. The time to speak is now. It is time that we stand with these women and let them know that they are not alone. When you donate to “Iranian Refugees,” these are the people you are helping.


Tags: persecution, religious freedom, Turkey