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Local pastor Marc Madrigal: “Christians in general are very pleased the Erdogan's AKP has lost its majority in parliament.”
The scenario after last week’s parliamentary election in Turkey has been analised widely by many. But how does the small minority of evangelical Christians in the country feel about the election? Most of them are happy with the results, according to Marc Madrigal, a pastor serving in Turkey.
“Many Christians are happy to see the HDP pass the 10% threshold and enter parliament as the HDP was the only party that did not have a nationalist discourse embracing all faiths and ethnicities including Christians”, explained Madrigal in an interview with Evangelical Focus.
But Recepp Tayyip Erdogan’s party was still the clear winner, and many Turks still feel Europe does not understand their culture.
Question. How do Christians analyse the result of the election?
Answer. Christians in general are very pleased the AKP [Erdogan’s running party] has lost its majority in parliament. Most of them are hopeful to see some positive change happening. Many are happy to see the HDP [pro-Kurdish party]pass the 10% threshold and enter parliament as the HDP was the only party that did not have a nationalist discourse embracing all faiths and ethnicities including Christians.
Q. How could things change with the new parliament?
A. The AKP did not obtain majority so they will no longer be able to pass laws without consent of the opposition. These results have also thwarted the constitutional reform and the process of switching to a presidential system which would have given Erdo?an enormous power.
Right now it is too early to tell what the current government will look like or how role the new left-wing Kurdish based party will play out. If there are no coalitions formed within the next weeks we will probably end up having early elections come October.
Q. Is Turkey's society hoping to have stronger ties with Europe or do citizens prefer moderate Islamism?
A. Most Turks still reject the idea of joining the EU, especially after the EU's economic performance over the last year. The main reason most Turks do not want to enter, however, is because they feel like they are being treated like a “smaller” country made to fulfill requirements.
In the context of an honor and shame culture they feel like they are being shamed. Turks are a ‘proud’ people, so what Europe might consider as straightforward contractual duty or requirements, a lot of times it is perceived by the Turks as an offense and or belittling.
What these results have shown is that 60% of the country still demands a democratic system and less involvement of Islam in politics (at least less than what the AKP has been doing the last few years).
Q. It has been said that 4 new parliament members are Christians. Is this accurate?
A. Yes it is. There are 3 Armenian and 1 Syrian Orthodox members of parliament. All candidates are form different parties: 1 from he AKP, 1 from the secularist CHP and the other 2 from the HDP, the Kurdish based leftist party that passed the 10% threshold.
Though it must be said that these new parliamentarians are Christians based on their ethnicity. Whether or not they practice their faith that is something altogether different.
Q. Are Protestants/evangelicals in Turkey finding more openness to share their Christian faith in the last years?
A. Openness is something difficult to gage. Societal prejudices still abound.
As far as authorities are concerned, it can be very arbitrary. While one municipality may grant evangelicals permits to use public buildings for concerts, others do not even give the evangelicals a rendez-vous. As far as openness in the long term that will depend on how much governments will be willing to fight prejudices, condemn wrongdoings and pass laws against hate crimes.