Turkish gov't building on seized Greek Orthodox property
Good news for Christians and Jews in Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Ergodan says that properties seized by Turkish authorities from religious minorities in the early 20th Century will finally be returned. (Of course, Christian and Jewish lands remain subject to discriminatory property tax treatment relative to Muslim owned land under sharia law, but let’s leave that to the side and enjoy a rare example of good news for the region.) From Mission Network News, h/t RoP:
Turkey (MNN) ― In the last days of August, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey would relinquish all properties or current property values to Christians and Jews who had had land confiscated 75 years ago.
Turkey has long been a difficult place for Christians to live. While persecution is not nearly as prevalent as in many neighboring countries, believers remain a small minority in the Muslim nation, and they have often been treated as second class citizens.
A prime example of these injustices was in 1936, when, Compass Direct reports, the Turkish government officially registered an incomplete list of minority properties. Hundreds of properties were confiscated from Christian and Jewish communities, some sold to third parties, others used for various offices…
The question is, can this important and positive step be replicated in other Islamic countries? Can other Middle Eastern countries be brought around to return property to religious minorities? Yes and no. Turkey may be doing this to avoid fines by the European Union and to obtain full EU membership.
The U.S. and Europe have a lot of leverage at their disposal if they chooses to use it. The Western business presence, foreign aid, and remittances by immigrants living in the West all present substantial windfalls for ruling Middle East elites. All this money can be conditioned on those countries meeting certain terms if we’re willing to lay them out and follow through on our word.
Using the millennium challenge accounts can also help countries meet specific objectives in order to qualify for U.S. aid.
This doesn’t mean that we invite Saudi Arabia into NATO if King Abdullah lets some Christians build a church. What it means is that we use existing international and financial ties and the threat of their removal to achieve specific outcomes in behalf of the Middle East’s suffering non-Muslim populations.