17 Mar ’14
Monthly Archives: March 2014
9 Mar ’14
In 2002, Turkey fell under the rule of the “AK Party,” or the Justice and Development Party. According to The Irish Times, in present-day Turkey, this ruling party has centralized ideals based on industrial expansion coupled with conservative Islam. The AK Party’s reign has transformed Turkey over the past decade, providing effectual economic policies and governance. According to Forbes magazine, this has shifted the socioeconomic class of many to the middle class and made the AKP the “dominant political force.”
In Turkey, church and state seem to exist symbiotically, where drastic transformation, especially the growing Muslim influence, has swept through the country on both ends. Due to the political and socioeconomic development, Turkey has “embraced its Muslim identity, setting apart as a self-defined Muslim power.” Having this power has enabled Turkey to take advantage of other Muslim societies in nearby nations, which has helped stabilize the political sphere.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, since coming to power in 2002, has enacted reforms to improve the rights of ethnic and religious groups in Turkey, but one may still question where other religious groups in Turkey find their place in Turkey’s “Muslim identity.” According to the Gatestone Institute, Turkey holds the oldest Christian place of worship in Instanbul: the ancient monastery of San Giovanni in Studion founded in 462. While this monastery is currently classified as a museum, it is now going to serve as a mosque.
The monastery of San Giovanni will be the third ancient Christian building and heritage site to be transformed to a mosque. This “attack on Christian places of worship” is also coupled with the precept that Christian communities in Turkey will not be granted the official recognition of “church” by the government. Improvement of rights and equality may be the focus, but the preeminent presence and power of Islam still affects those of varying religions, such as Christianity.
3 Mar ’14
Every year, more than 100 of the world’s most powerful elites gather for informal, “off-the-record” discussions concerning major world issues. These meetings are known as the Bilderberg Conference. The first conference trace back to May 1954, with its intended goal to unite Western Europe and North America in order to prevent another World War. The meeting was held at Bilderberg Hotel in the Netherlands.
Attendees of Bilderberg’s annual four-day meetings include political figures, large business CEOs, members of the royal family, and CEOs of multinational corporations. Some of the attendees are Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller, Chancellor Gorge Osborne, the CEO of The Washington Post Company, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, founder and CEO of Amazon, minister of economy and competitiveness, head of states and much more.
Interestingly, these meetings are held in secrecy, guarded by hundreds of policemen. Therefore, it is not clear as to what is actually discussed. Further, media and press coverage are prohibited and attendees are sworn to secrecy. The security is airtight, to say the least. And as a result, this lack of transparency between authority and citizens sparked controversy and has inspired many conspiracy theories.
However, it is assumed that some possible discussion topics may be:
Jobs, entitlement & debt
Development in the Middle East
It is understandable as to why this is a controversial issue. The fact that the government officials are meeting with large CEOs of multinational corporations in secrecy without citizen’s consent is unjust and questionable. Also, though large media companies, i.e. Washington Post, are invited and attendants of Bilderberg yet cannot and will not provide coverage on the event says a lot about the power structure in placed.
Well, for every attendant of Bilderberg, there is one person with a camera, sign, and banner behind guarded fence miles away from the conference. They capture images of the attendees behind dark-tinted car windows as they drive by. And because of this constant and persistent pressure, in 2013, for the first time in history, Bilderberg allowed an unofficial press zone nearby.
So, if 130 people could change 59 years of history, image what more could do to transcend authority.
First and foremost, however, awareness is key.
1 Mar ’14
Although widespread, few people outside of the region are aware of the persecution Christians face in predominately Islamic nations; according to persecution.org and the Holy See, over 100,000 Christians are oppressed worldwide for their faith, with a majority of them being in Islamic dominant nations. While harsh on lifelong Christians, these governments tend to take an unforgiving approach to Muslim converts to Christianity. The Islamic controlled nation of Morocco is no exception to this practice.
Article one, chapter six of the Moroccan constitution names Islam the official state religion but protects the freedom to practice ones own non-Islamic religion. This implies that Christianity would be embraced and accepted; in actuality, however, it is barely tolerated in the nation. For example, article 220 of Morocco’s penal code prohibits proselytizing (converting from one religion to another); additionally, the distribution of Christian religious materials is also prohibited under Moroccan law. The practice of the government to persecute all religions that are not Islam directly contradicts article one of the nations constitution.
For a while, Morocco allowed Christian missionaries and other Western Christians to live in their cities and perform aid work. The government was fairly lenient on their enforcement of laws regarding religion. One day in 2010, seemingly out of the blue, over 100 Christians were deported and banned from reentering the country. No one is entirely sure what sparked this change of heart by the Moroccan government but the Interior Minster stated, the Christians “are guilty of trying to undermine the faith of Muslims.” Another representative to the King held that, “the repatriation measures were not taken against the concerned parties in relation to their Christian faith, but because they had committed criminal offenses.” From what I have been able to gather, the criminal offenses that these people are guilty of have remained unnamed.
After the deportations of a number of Western Christians, conditions continued to worsen. The most recent story that I was able to find about these ongoing persecutions is the story of Mohamed El Baladi who was fortunate enough to have his case dismissed by an appellate judge due to a lack of evidence. El Baladi was arrested for allegedly proselytizing two Muslims to Christianity. When the police raided his home, they found an assortment of Christian media and a sum of money that they believed suggested that he was being paid for performing conversions—nothing that our culture would typically think of as warranting an arrest. In Morocco however, it justified El Baladi’s arrest, sentence to 30 months in prison, and a fine that amounted to approximately one hundred and eighty-two U.S. dollars. The fortunate decision of the appellate judge to dismiss the case is unusual as Morocco has a history of executing or expelling converts in addition to imprisoning them for an extended period of time. As stated previously, they take a much harsher approach to converts than they do to native Christians.
Due to the vicious persecutions of Christians at the hands of the Moroccan government, they make up less than one percent of the current population of over 32 million people.