Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Minister calls on Christian and Jewish minorities to return to Turkey

Christian and Jewish minorities who have left Turkey can come back to their home country as the mistakes of the past will not be committed again, said Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik during his visit to the Russian capital, Moscow, March 16.

“If you encounter troubles anywhere in the world, know that the first place you can appeal to is the Turkish embassy. Turkey has become a democracy that protects every identity and their historical legacies,” he said, adding that minorities had faced many problems in the past. “Turkish democracy now gathers in itself every identity.”

Çelik added that the same care was shown in the restoration of mosques, churches and synagogues. He also mentioned that the Taksim Barracks, known as Topçu Kışlası, which are planned to be restored in the near future, had marks of Russian architecture. “[As the Justice and Development Party] we consider the traces left from the Russians in Anatolia as historical legacies,” he said. 

Bold words, but it remains to be seen what the reality will be in the future. Restoration to historical churches is taking place, but permission is not being granted for the use of these buildings, nor is permission being granted for new church buildings.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Turkey to permit religious headscarves

Turkey's labor minister said he will work to remove a ban on women's religious headscarves in government buildings. 

Faruk Celik said he received a petition with 12.3 million signatures demanding the headscarf ban be lifted and calling for Muslim women -- many of whom believe the scarves to be a religious commandment -- to be free to dress as they please, Hurriyet Daily News said Saturday. "I am convinced that this process will lead to enhanced social peace and harmony -- and will be a key ingredient for the normalization process," Celik said. 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed, noting no such ban on headscarves exists in the nation's constitution.Read more: