Tuesday, June 2, 2020

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom calls on Turkey to Reopen Halki Seminary

Hellenic News
Hellenic News
The copyrights for these articles are owned by HNA. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HNA and its representatives.

Must read

Obituary: Mary Anagnostou of Wilmington, DE

Mary E. AnagnostouAfter a brief, but swift illness, Mary Anagnostou passed peacefully to sleep on January 19, 2018, at her home in Wilmington, Delaware...

Greek-American Lawyer seeks to uphold the law for businesses affected by COVID-19

National Business Interruption Claims   The Hellenic News of America had the pleasure of interviewing Attorney Peter Palivos, who lives in Las Vegas and is considered...

Young Greek-American Entrepreneur Continues to Expand His Family Dental Business in Chicago

By: Aphrodite Kotrotsios, PublisherSpecial to the Hellenic News of America Peter Alemis is a young entrepreneur who has stepped into the family business and has...

Now’s not the time to get complacent about COVID-19, says Dr. Halkitis, Rutgers’ Dean of Public Health

By: David Bjorkgren, Senior EditorSpecial to the Hellenic News of America Perry N. Halkitis, Ph.D., M.S., M.P.H., the Dean of Rutgers School of Public Health,...

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) calls on the Turkish government to reopen the Greek Orthodox Theological School of Halki, which was closed 44 years ago this month when the government nationalized all private institutions of higher learning.

“Without the seminary, the Greek Orthodox community cannot educate in Turkey the next generation of clergy to lead their congregants in worship, observance, and practice,” said USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George. “The failure to reopen the Halki seminary is a stark example of the Turkish government’s failure to uphold its international obligations to protect and promote the freedom of religion or belief.”

The Turkish constitution, adopted in 1982, is based on the French model of laïcité (secularism). The constitution states that “there shall be no interference whatsoever by sacred religious feelings in state affairs and politics.”  Consequently, religious communities – neither the Sunni Muslim majority nor minority communities – have full legal status, and all communities are subject to state control. Furthermore, under Turkish secularism, religious communities have limited rights to own and maintain places of worship or other properties, train and appoint religious clergy, and offer religious education.

In recent years, the Turkish government has taken some steps that have improved religious freedom conditions for religious communities. These reforms include: returning minority properties that were expropriated over decades, lifting the ban on Islamic headscarves in public and educational institutions, and revising public school religious textbooks. Turkey also is providing safe haven to more than two million Syrian refugees, many of whom are fleeing religious persecution and sectarian violence. However, the government over the past two years also has dramatically curtailed other human rights, including the freedoms of the press, expression, and assembly, with troubling implications for the freedom of religion or belief in the country.

“Turkey has demonstrated by its response to the Syrian refugee crisis that it can be a world leader in protecting the victims of religious oppression and sectarian violence. President Erdoğan, Prime Minister Davutoğlu, and the newly elected Parliament should demonstrate that same leadership at home by prioritizing freedom of religion or belief and all other internationally protected human rights,” said Chairman George. “Unconditionally reopening Halki seminary without delay would be one step in the right direction.”

Thanks for reading Hellenic News of America

In its 2015 Annual Report, USCIRF placed Turkey in its Tier 2 category because of its restrictions on freedom of religion or belief.  For additional information and recommendations, click here to read USCIRF’s 2015 Annual Report chapter on Turkey.



The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

More articles

Latest articles

Archbishop Elpidophoros responds to the unjust slaying of George Floyd

Archbishop Elpidophoros Issues Statement on George Floyd New York – On Friday, May 29, 2020, in response to the growing tensions across the country, His...

His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael Releases statement on the death of George Floyd and its aftermath

On Monday, June 1, His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago made the following statement:Like so many of you, it was with heartache, confusion and...


Μέσα στο πανδαιμόνιο τόσων απροσδόκητων νόσων αλλά και τόσων χαροποιών ιάσεων τον τελευταίο καιρό λόγω του κορονοϊού, είναι πιστεύω χρήσιμο να θυμηθούμε και να...

Greek-American designer designer Maria Argyropoulos Zarian talks about ‘Masks for a Cause’

Greek-American designer Maria Argyropoulos Zarian chatted with HNA's Markos Papadatos about making a difference with her company m.andonia and "Masks for a Cause." She also...

‘Live with Aphrodite’ welcomes Greek-American recording artist Kalomira

Greek-American pop sensation, Kalomira, releases new song "Gia Mia Zoi" May 7, 2020- In light of the current pandemic, COVID-19, Hellenic News of America took...