Claim: Tolerance evaporated in Turkey

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Claim: Tolerance evaporated in Turkey

2016-07-14 07:38 BST
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Karen Kruger from the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung claims tolerance in Turkey is worse than it was 50 years ago

Gay pride parade organized in Istanbul in 2014

On 13 July 2016, columnist for the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) Karen Kruger claimed in an article that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made the country less tolerant to differences in society.

“Since the AKP came to power, tolerance has evaporated. How Islam is to be lived, is now determined solely by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Everyone should be like him: a devout Sunni Muslim who does not smoke, does not drink, and prays...” 12

However, Kruger failed to note that there have been many democracy and human rights developments that Turkey achieved in the last decade. On 17 April 2014, for instance, Turkish atheists established their own organization. The Association of Atheism is an institution which is recognized by the European Union and is represented in Turkey both officially and academically,3 carrying out its activities publicly.

In 2015, Turkey woke up to another first in its history. Miktat Akgul, a member of the minority Alevi Muslim community who was imprisoned, requested to contact a dede (socio-cultural and religious Alevi leader) and his request was accepted by the authorities. An Alevi dede visited the prison to preach as a result of Akgul's request.4

Additionally, on 1 January 2015, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality granted land to the Syriac Orthodox Church to build a new church. Also, Jewish citizens celebrated Hanukkah publicly for the first time in Ortakoy Square in Istanbul in the same year. An elderly Jewish man celebrating Hanukkah in the square was heard saying "I am 70 years old, we are witnessing such an event for the first time. We are so excited and happy." A woman said "This is the first time we see a thing that belongs to us outside our houses or a synagogue."5

LGBTI rights also have improved in the last decade. From pride parades to the establishment of many LGBTI organizations, people with different sexual chocies have been recognized publicly. In 2003, the first gay pride consisting of around 30 people was held in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city known for its deep Islamic history and culture, and Lambda Istanbul, an LGBT organization, became legally institutionalized in 2006. For more information on LGBTI organizations, please click here.