Date: November 13, 2023
Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released the following report:
Examination of Threats to Religious Sites in Turkey – This report examines threats to religious properties in Turkey, including places of worship, religious institutions, and cemeteries. While the number and severity of violent attacks targeting religious sites—such as bombings and other terrorist methods—has decreased over the last decade, there has not been a similar decline in incidents of vandalism and the destruction of religious properties. This research demonstrates denominational differences in the types of threats and attacks faced by various religious communities in Turkey and similarly evaluates the geographic variation that characterizes attitudes towards these communities and their religious sites. The report indicates that reporting and prosecuting these incidents poses a significant challenge for religious communities. Although efforts by the Turkish government and local authorities to restore select religious heritage sites represent an important positive step, such projects remain limited.
In its 2023 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended that the U.S. Department of State place Turkey on its Special Watch List. In December 2022, USCIRF released a report documenting the government’s use of criminal blasphemy charges against government critics and individuals perceived to have insulted or mocked Islam.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a commissioner, please contact USCIRF at