Religious minorities denounce Turkey’s new regulations for foundations

ANKARA — The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues to enact policies targeting non-Turkish minorities in the country, especially Christians.

The Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople submitted a letter to President Erdoğan expressing dissatisfaction among the Armenian community over the new regulations for foundations which force non-Muslim religious communities in Turkey to register themselves in the state as institutions to be able to administer and lead their churches.

The regulation also places all religious institutions under the authority and control of state ministries, such as the Ministry of Health and others.

In June 2022, an updated regulation was released after an eight-year delay allowing for Christian churches and others to elect leaders and board members with new electoral procedures. The Armenian Patriarch, Sahak II Masalyan, submitted a letter indicating that the discontentment of the Christian community could lead to a boycott of the new process.

Currently, there are 167 foundations associated with the Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Jewish, Syriac, Chaldean, Bulgarian, Georgian, and Syriac Maronite communities. These include the management of places of worship like churches, real estate, cultural centers, and health care facilities like hospitals.