Why are we still seriously considering Turkish membership of the EU?
By William Oddie
Yet more evidence has emerged that Turkey’s proposed membership of the EU should be definitively ruled out on the grounds of the incompatibility of the proposed partners. To put it simply, despite the increasingly secular nature of contemporary Europe and certainly of the EU itself, nothing will ever change the fact that the cultural roots of Europe are Christian: and however insistent the Turks are about the secularity of Turkey’s political institutions, even these are beginning to show the ineradicably Islamic and increasingly Islamist character of Turkey’s underlying culture. And as an unpleasant case now unfolding demonstrates, this is Islam of a clearly anti-Christian character.
Briefly, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recip Erdogan, has put his weight behind attempts to crush a small Christian community and to seize an important part of its assets. Though there are now only a few thousand Syro-Orthodox Christians left, they are still in occupation of one of the oldest monasteries anywhere in the world.
There are now under way legal attempts to seize the land surrounding the monastery (necessary for the community’s continued existence) amid claims that the monastery itself was built on land on which there had once been a mosque; this, despite the fact that the monastery predates Islam by several centuries (!!!!). Here is Zenit’s take on the affair, just in case you think I’m just showing some kind of anti-Islamic bias:
GEM OF CHRISTIAN HISTORY AT RISK IN TURKEY
Expropriation of Monastery Land Seen as Effort to Squash Syriacs
By Paul de Maeyer ROME, FEB. 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Not even the Mongols of the 14th century, when they killed 40 monks and some 400 faithful, succeeded in making one of the most ancient Christian convents in the world disappear, but perhaps Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, can.
This appears to be the case of the Syro-Orthodox monastery of Mor Gabriel …. It is located in the region of Turabdin in the southeast of Anatolia. The convent bears the name of Mor Gabriel (634-668), bishop of Turabdin, known for his witness of holiness and miracles….
The monastery is at the center of a harsh battle initiated in 2008 by the leaders of three Kurdish villages dominated by a tribe supported in Parliament by one of their leaders, Suleyman Celebi, who is a Parliamentarian with the pro-Islamic ruling party of Erdogan (the AKP or Party of Justice and Development).
Grotesquely, Turkish secular law is being used in the furtherance of this clearly Islamist piece of anti-Christian aggression. The argument is, according to Otmar Oehring, director of the Human Rights Office of the German Catholic organisation Missio that no religious community exists or has ever existed in Turkish law. Here, perhaps, Turkish ambitions to enter the EU might be used in the defence of the community, since as Herr Oehring points out, denying the community’s very existence is “completely incompatible” with the European Convention on Human Rights. There has, in fact been considerable attention paid to this shocking scandal by German Parliamentarians, though nowhere else in the EU including the UK (why not, I wonder?)
Erika Steinbach, spokeswoman of the German parliamentary group for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, went so far as to call it a decision that symbolises “the repression of Christianity in Turkey”.
It really does seem to be the case that wherever Muslims are in a clear majority, Christianity is likely to be repressed in some way, if not actually lethally persecuted.
Turkish legal procedures have now been exhausted, and the monks of Mor Gabriel have lost the battle. The only way left for them now is, ironically, to turn to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Metropolitan Samuel Aktas told the Economist that is what he will now do: “I have remained silent in the face of these injustices”, he said, “but no longer so”.
I just hope he hasn’t left it too late. There’s one thing: if the Metropolitan wins in Strasbourg, and Erdogan goes ahead anyway, that will at least put paid to Turkish membership of the EU. But at what a terrible price: it hardly bears thinking about.