Tensions Tighten Between Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Turkish Government

January 5, 2010

The head of the Eastern Orthodox Church Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople said in an interview on a American television show last week that Turkey’s leaders, including the prime minister, have been unresponsive to concrete concerns he raised about religious inequality in the country. The interview has been condemned by the Turkish government. This latest row comes as international criticism is growing over Turkey’s treatment of its small Christian minority which numbers less than one percent of its population.

One of the world’s most important Christian leaders, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, lives in a country where 99 percent of the population is Muslim. As the patriarch of 300 million Orthodox Christians, he lives in Istanbul, Turkey where his church has been headquartered for more than 1,000 years.

By citizenship his nationality is Turkish, but he belongs ethnically to the small remnants of the Greek community in Turkey.

At the turn of the last century there were nearly two million Orthodox Christians in Turkey; 1.5 million Greeks were expelled as part of a population exchange with Greece; and 150,000 left after violent anti-Christian riots in Istanbul in 1955.

Read the full article at:

http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/europe/Tensions-Tighten-Between-Greek-Orthodox-Patriarch-Turkish-Government-80341707.html

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