Qa-44, 22 June 2019, Statement Of The Spokesperson Of The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hami Aksoy, In Response To A Question Regarding The Chapter On Turkey Of The ''2018 Report On International Religious Freedom'' Published By The Us Department Of State

Республіка Туреччина Міністерство Закордонних Справ 22.06.2019

In the "2018 Report on International Religious Freedom" published by the US Department of State on 21 June 2019, the fact that the leader of FETÖ terrorist organization is referred to as a "Muslim cleric and political figure" is a clear indicator of the ulterior motives and the circles behind it . Such portrayal of the leader of the terrorist organization which murdered 251 of our citizens is equal to turning a blind eye to ‪the 15 July heinous coup attempt or supporting it. It

is a very telling example of hypocritical approach for a country who pretends to be the defender of democracy in the world to define those behind the coup attempt against an ally democracy as innocent religious cleric.

Pastor Brunson was convicted because of his affiliation with terrorism, not because of his faith. He has returned to the US after serving his time in accordance with a judicial decision, not as a result of sanctions and threats. Still, covering his case extensively and presenting it as a violation of religious freedom in the report is nothing but an attempt by the US to exploit the matter and wrongfully criticize our country.

The fact that the US Department of State does not bring forward a single criticism about Israel's aggression towards Haram al-Sharif, one of Islam’s holiest sites of worship, in the chapter on Israel of the same report while presenting the reaction in our country against Israel's killings of dozens of Muslims in Gaza last year as "anti-Semitic rhetoric" reveals the frivolous nature of the report.

Turkey reiterates its objective to protect and promote the freedom of religion and worship with every step it takes. Various religions and beliefs will continue to coexist peacefully in Turkey.

On the other hand, had the US obtained information from minorities in Turkey beforehand, the outcome would have been a much more realistic and reputable report.

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