In the past twenty years, around three thousand Turkish Muslims converted to a Turkish-speaking Protestant movement. Despite their small number, they have been physically and ideologically attacked by Turkish nationalists. This article asks why it is so difficult for Turkish secular nationalists to accept that one can be a Turk and a Christian at the same time. Based on eight months of ethnographic research among Turkish Christians in Istanbul and Ankara and discourse analysis of popular antimissionary literature in Turkey, it argues that the nature of the campaign against Christian missionaries and Turkish converts to Christianity is first and foremost nationalist and etatist, not religious. Spokespeople and the gunmen of the antimissionary and anti-Christian campaign fear and loathe Turkish Christians primarily because they believe that by converting to Christianity they are being disloyal to their nation and their state.
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Research Article| December 01 2009
Esra Özyürek; Christian and Turkish: Secularist Fears of a Converted Nation. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2009; 29 (3): 398–412. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-2009-027
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