After an increase in attacks on church buildings and threats against Christians and minorities in Turkey, SAT-7 TÜRK has amplified their calls for peace and justice.
“We are deeply concerned by the recent rise in threats and attacks against Christians and minority communities,” said Melih Ekener, the channel’s Executive Director. “SAT-7 TÜRK’s news department is a hub connected to churches across Turkey, making the channel an important platform to keep what is happening to these communities in the public eye. Through our current affairs programme WorldView, we are also advocating for God’s peace and tolerance at this time.”
SAT-7 TÜRK’s news outlet first reported an arson attempt on the Armenian Church in Bakırköy, Istanbul, on 10 May, sharing news from the Armenian Patriarchate that thankfully, no damage or injury was caused. After being taken into custody, the suspect appeared to blame Armenians, or non-Muslims generally, for the Covid-19 pandemic, saying, “I wanted to burn [the church] because the trouble of coronavirus came to us because of them.”
This attack was followed by the vandalism of a second Istanbul church on 23 May, in which the building’s cross was removed. This incident was reported on WorldView along with news that death threats had been emailed to the Hrant Dink Foundation, an organisation that promotes human and minority rights as part of a “just, free, and equal Turkey”. The foundation continues the legacy of Hrant Dink, an Armenian-Turkish journalist murdered in 2007. Dink’s widow Rakel and the foundation’s lawyers also received death threats.
Speaking on WorldView, presenter Volkan Er acknowledged the general climate of fear and uncertainty in Turkey: “The current situation is so fragile; people are looking for someone to blame,” he says. “During Covid-19, what we considered the staples of society – such as jobs, routine, and the economy – have become fragile. Everything we trusted has been taken away.”
Nevertheless, said fellow presenter Senem Ekener, “[The rise in violence] is not an artificial situation. We know first-hand the climate of hatred and its devastating effects both on Turkey and on the churches exposed to it. We hope and pray these attacks will not be repeated.”
The programme also shared the official statement of the Association of Protestant Churches, which says, “We reproach these acts directed against Christians and minorities, which are intended to create an environment of hatred and to make people feel insecure in their own homes and places of worship.”
The presenters then turned to the Bible, encouraging Christian viewers and demonstrating to non-Christians that believers stand for peace, tolerance, and unity. “The Bible is an authority in our lives because it clearly speaks to the events happening today. We see in Acts 10 that God does not distinguish between different people,” said Senem. She explored the vision received by the Apostle Peter in the book of Acts, which prompted him to say, “God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean” (Acts 10:28). Senem concluded: “When we turn our faces to the Bible, we see how God removes all barriers, and we see His call for peace.”