Two Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate played a role in a groundbreaking conference in Istanbul, giving voice to the use of social media by religious minorities in Turkey.
The Nov. 13 conference — “Between Freedom of Expression and Hate Speech: Minorities and Social Media” — focused on research findings of the Social Media and Minorities Project. The Project is co-financed by the Republic of Turkey and the European Union and is the first such EU project ever implemented by minorities foundations.
Archon Laki Vingas of Istanbul spearheaded the conference, delivering one of the keynote addresses in his roles as Manager of the Social Media and Minorities Project and President of Istanbul’s Yeniköy Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church and School Foundation. The Foundation co-hosted the conference with the Istanbul Bilgi University Human Rights Law Research Center on the University’s campus. Vingas also serves as the representative of Non-Muslim Foundations, General Directorate of Foundations.
Archon John Metaxas of New York travelled to the conference to represent the Order. In his presentation, Archon Metaxas elaborated on the plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the role of an Archon and how social media should be used in a respectful dialogue and debate. Said Archon Metaxas, “We applaud efforts to give religious minorities a voice in Turkey.”
More than one hundred professionals in social media, the news industry and members of academia attended the conference, which was part of the Civil Society Dialogue Programme.
Listen to Archon Metaxas’s presentation
Clip 1: On the 17-century history of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (10 secs)
Clip 2: On our stake in how Turkey does (17 secs)
Clip 3: On Turkey’s stake in freedom of religion and speech (23 secs)
Clip 4: We applaud efforts to give religious minorities a voice in Turkey (28 secs)
Clip 5: We wish to use social media in a respectful debate (23 secs)
Clip 6: Protecting the worldwide role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (11 secs)
Clip 7: On using social media to move in a positive direction (11 secs)
The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle is made up of Orthodox Christians who have been appointed as Archons, an ancient title dating back to the early Christian Church. The Archons dedicate themselves to the defense and preservation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the face of persecution, to the Orthodox Christian faith and tradition, to the well-being of the Christian Church and the inalienable rights of the human race wherever they may be violated. The Archons are under the spiritual direction of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
What is the Social Media and Minorities project?
“The Social Media and Minorities” project is being carried out as part of the Civil Society Dialogue Programme, co-financed by the Republic of Turkey and the European Union. This Programme was developed as a platform to bring together civil society organizations from Turkey with those from member states of the European Union around common issues, so that they may come to know each other, share information and establish dialogue. The Ministry for European Union Affairs is responsible for the technical implementation of the Programme, and the Central Finance and Conracting Unit is the contracting authority.
In the “Social Media and Minorities” project, the topic of research is the relationship between social media and the social and societal participation of non-Muslim minorities in Turkey. The way in which social media is used by minorities – both quantitatively and qualitatively – as well as examples of the experience of discrimination and hate speech, and current legal regulations are examined in the course of the project.
Among the general goals of the project is to promote the freedom of expression in social media, suggest legal regulations against discrimination and hate speech, emphasize the role of social media in the social and societal participation of non-Muslim minorities, and enhance the equal citizenship status of minorities within this context. One of the partners of the project, the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) conducted similar research with non-Christian minorities in Greece. Another partner, the Istanbul Bilgi University Human Rights Law Research Center is evaluating the legal regulations concerning social media in Turkey in comparison to EU standards.
The “Social Media and Minorities” project is also significant due to its existence as the very first EU project implemented by minorities foundations.