Pressure is intensifying due to rising religious nationalism and Islamic values.


“The only reason I can think of for [forcing me to leave] is that we are people of faith, and at times we have shared our faith with the local people.”

– Hans-Jurgen Louven, who was forced to leave Turkey


Middle East
Sources of persecution
Islamic Oppression
Christian population
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

What’s Life Like For Christians?

The combination of rising religious nationalism and a growing emphasis on Islamic values by the government is intensifying the pressure on believers in Turkey.

Foreign Christians continue to be forced to leave the country or banned from returning, including those with Turkish spouses and children. Historical Christian communities are monitored regularly and subjected to controls and limitations by the government.

Although conversion from Islam to Christianity is not legally forbidden, anyone who is not a Muslim, or who converts to a different faith, is seen as a disloyal Turk. Christians are viewed as a negative Western influence, and those who choose to follow Jesus can face pressure from their families and communities to recant their faith. Given that religious affiliation is registered on the electronic chip inside ID cards, it’s easy for employers, particularly those with connections to the state, to discriminate against believers.

Turkey is also home to converts from countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. On top of pressure from Turkish society and government officials, these believers face pressure from their own families and communities. Many are fearful of making contact with local churches because of the risk of discovery by community members.

Who Is Most Vulnerable To Persecution?

Hostility toward Christians is particularly acute in the inland areas, where attitudes are typically conservative and Islamic. Armenian and Assyrian (Syriac) churches face hostility in the southeastern region of Turkey. For decades, they have been caught between the rivalries of the Turkish army and Kurdish resistance groups and have faced discrimination by both ethnic Turks and Kurds in general.


– That Christians will be seen as valued members of Turkish society, rather than a threat.

– That believers will have boldness, wisdom, and protection amidst a hostile society.

– That believers will not grow disheartened by the rising challenges facing them.

What Does Open Doors Do To Help?

Open Doors raises prayer support for persecuted believers in Turkey. Through local partners, Open Doors supports Persian Speaking refugee believers with training, resources, and practical support.

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