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Turkey’s ruling coalition now targets Christians with ‘Grey Wolves’ terror group

The Grey Wolves are linked to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's far-right coalition partners Nationalist Movement Party

Turkey is rattled by the attempt by US lawmakers to declare the Grey Wolves, an anti-Christian organisation, as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO).

The Grey Wolves are linked to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's far-right coalition partners Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The group is already on the terror radar of several US allies including Austria, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

Last month, the US House of Representatives had passed several amendments to the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) which also includes the one introduced by Representative Dina Titus that requires the Secretary of State to submit a report assessing whether Turkey's Grey Wolves meet the criteria to be designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation.

The report will focus "on the activities of the Grey Wolves organisation (Bozkurtlar & Ulku Ocaklari) undertaken against US interests, allies and international partners, including a review of the criteria met for designation as a foreign terrorist organisation."

The latest legislation in the US Congress comes after the European Parliament had last year moved a motion on the classification of the Grey Wolves as a group involved in terrorist acts, saying that the Turkish Islamist paramilitary organisation is known for its role in various conflicts, such as in Syria and Nagorno‑Karabakh and also been involved in violent activity in Europe, including murders and attempted murders, in particular targeting Pope John‑Paul II and members of the PKK.

Earlier this year, while presenting an annual European Parliament report, Spanish Socialist European Deputy Nacho Sanchez Amor, said that the body is "highly worried" that the "racist right-wing extremist Ulkucu movement", known as Grey Wolves, is also spreading in EU Member States.

The report called on the EU and its Member States "to examine the possibility of adding Grey Wolves to the EU terrorist list, to ban their associations and organisations in EU countries, to closely monitor their activities and to counter their influence, which is especially threatening for people with a Kurdish, Armenian or Greek background and anyone they consider an opponent."

The International Christian Concern (ICC), which assists persecuted Christians worldwide, says that it has been making these recommendations since long after having found that "Karabakh War was driven by extremist elements such as the Grey Wolves" and that serious religious freedom violations remain ongoing.

"We welcome the amendments from these representatives and encourage others to join in on these efforts to curb the Grey Wolves and help the Christians of Artsakh," said ICC's Director of Advocacy Matias Perttula.

"We will continue to track developments from Artsakh and make sure to hold Turkey, Azerbaijan, and the Grey Wolves accountable for their violence against Armenian Christians," he added.

Meanwhile, Tanju Bilgic, the spokesperson for Turkey's Foreign Ministry, said that Ankara "regrets" the adoption of amendment by the US House.

"It is regretful and worrying that such a groundless amendment incompatible with the spirit of the alliance between Turkey and the US could even be considered in a house of the US Congress," the spokesperson had said recently.

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