Christianity is no longer a religion, former Turkish official Erdogan Bayraktar said at a recent conference sponsored by Turkey’s ruling (AKP) party.
Bayraktar, Turkey’s Environment and Urbanism Minister until December 2013, said at the conference:
The biggest three countries in the world are not Muslim countries. China, India–only the U.S. believes in a single God. Spirituality and religious feelings are weakening. … There are 2.5 billion Christians in the world. Christianity is no longer a religion. It’s a culture now. But that is not what a religion is like. A religion teaches; it is a form of life that gives one peace and happiness. That is what they want to turn [Islam] into as well.
Islamic terrorism expert and Jihad Watch best-selling author Robert Spencer weighed in on the Minister’s controversial comments. He said, “In other words, he is telling his audience to be on guard against those who try to water down, or should we say moderate, the teachings of Islam. Those teachings, including, presumably, the teachings of jihad warfare against unbelievers and their subjugation under the rule of Islamic law.” Spencer added, “Coming from an official of the ostensibly secular regime in Turkey, this is a noteworthy statement: he is essentially saying that Turkish secularism, which restricts key aspects of Islam, must be opposed.”
Turkey’s Christian population is estimated at 100,000 of the country’s 76-million citizens, according to 2013 surveys.
Support for Islamic radicalism has surged under Turkey’s ruling and Muslim Brotherhood-allied Justice and Development Party (AKP). There has also been a steady increase in anti-Semitic language from top Turkish officials, including President Recep Erdogan.