Christians Arrested During Prayer

Country: Turkey

Date of incident: September 27, 2008

Soldiers arrested a priest and more than 20 Christians in a Turkish Province during prayer. The Christian community wanted to hold a religious service in this region. When the Christians started to distribute sweets to the children and Bibles to the adults the security forces intervened and arrested them.

In the Turkish province of Artvin, 22 Christians were arrested and taken away from their church because residents and security forces suspected them for "missionary activities."  As the newspaper "Taraf" and other Turkish media reported, a patrol of the paramilitary gendarmerie sighted, on Friday in the village Cevizli, a priest in his robes on the street in front of a church. The soldiers arrested both the priest and the praying community - 18 women and three men - and took them to the police station. The Roman Catholic priest was fined an amount of 70 Euros for wearing religious clothing in public, which is prohibited in Turkey. Then they let the Christians go. Official law protects freedom of Religion in Turkey. Therefore, neither Christian worship nor proselytizing is punishable. This case shows, however, that the realization of this law is not guaranteed in practice. Source: Die Welt (