Michael Huffington, former Congressman and activist published a great article about Turkey in the aftermath of the Patriarch Bartholomew’s interview in the 60 minutes.
Michael Huffington’s entire article can be found in the famous Huffington Post. Some critical points:
The Ecumenical Patriarch of 300,000,000 Orthodox Christians (of which I am one) is similar to the Pope of the Catholic Church. And yet he is a treated as a second-class citizen in his own country where he was born. The Orthodox “Vatican” is called the Phanar and it is located on less than an acre of land in the city of Istanbul. There have been so many threats of violence that they have had to use barbed wire and cameras to protect the priest inside the property. The last century has seen the Orthodox Christian population diminish from 2,000,000 in 1900 to less than 4,000 in all of Turkey today. Most were forced out. Yet this geographical area of the world was mostly Christian a thousand years ago.
Over the past 20 years, Turkey has been trying to gain admittance to the European Union. Turkey is not a European country. Most of its land mass is in Asia Minor. It is not ethnically, socially, culturally or religiously European. Yet the U.S. government (especially under President George W. Bush) has lobbied the Europeans forcefully to admit Turkey into the EU because Turkey is our military ally, and the American military and political establishment didn’t want them falling into the Russian or the Iranian sphere of influence. […]
If Turkey were ever allowed to join the European Union, the consequences would be reminiscent of those that happened to the city of Troy when it allowed the Trojan Horse inside its fortified walls. The Muslim culture would ultimately dominate Christian and secular Europe. As can be seen in Turkey today that country does not welcome or protect other religions within its borders. They have seized Orthodox Church properties, closed churches, monasteries and schools. If one walks with a priest down the streets of Istanbul it is not a comfortable feeling. Many priests will change out of their church clothes and wear business suits once they leave the confines of the Phanar. This is not religious freedom as we know it in the west.[…]
France and other European countries rightfully have serious and well-founded reservations about admitting Turkey into the EU. If Turkey were admitted any Turkish citizen could travel, work and reside in any EU country because they would no longer need a visa. There are Islamist fundamentalist in Turkey as there are in Iraq, Iran, Egypt and other Muslim countries. This would be a security nightmare. The American Administration should butt out of this issue and let the Europeans make their own decision. […]
It is probably past time for the Patriarchate to leave its homeland. The Turks have made it unbearable to live and work there. There are many other countries in this world that would welcome the Patriarch and the several dozen priests that remain. And why should the next Ecumenical Patriarch of 300,000,000 souls have to be a Turkish citizen just because the Turkish government “won’t allow” any other citizen of any other country to hold that position? A government should not hold a veto right over the spiritual leader of any religion. Orthodoxy will grow faster and more soundly if its roots are planted in nourishing soil.
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