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QA-28, 1 May 2019, Statement of the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hami Aksoy, in Response to a Question Regarding the Turkey Chapter of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom 2019 Report

We have examined the chapter on Turkey of the “2019 International Religious Freedom Report” published by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. This report is annually published by the said Commission in order to make policy recommendations to the U.S. Government regarding religious freedoms.

The mention of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) as “Sunni Muslims” that face persecution in the report, reveals from the very beginning how biased and detached from reality it is and how it was drawn up under the influence of certain sources of evil. The depiction of FETÖ as “Gülen and his followers accused by the Turkish Government for the coup attempt” is equivalent to condoning terrorism, in view of dozens of court rulings establishing it as a terrorist organization.

The joint declaration published last year by the representatives of Turkey’s religious communities, proclaiming that they live without being subject to any pressure, is the best confirmation of the climate of religious freedom in Turkey. Groundless allegations in the report that the said declaration, which was signed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, General Vicar of the Armenian Patriarch of Turkey, Chief Rabbi of Turkey as well as Syriac, Chaldean and Protestant representatives, “may have been coordinated” by our Government, exposes the political motives behind the report.

It is a contradiction of the U.S. Government and Congress to criticize Turkey, when it has been unable to come to terms with the election of Muslim members to the House of Represantatives, to demonstrate the will to fight against Islamophobia and to prevent the attacks against its own minorities.

During this difficult period when the threat posed by terrorist organizations against religious freedoms is at a peak, Turkey sets an example to the world with its society in which various religions and beliefs coexist peacefully.