Orthodox Christianity has been tied to Constantinople for thousands of years. But now that Turkey is predominantly Muslim, that church, as well as other minority religions, has suffered from persecutions that range from governmental inaction to actual violence.
Turkey, however, would like to join the European Union, although its human rights policies make that difficult.
In response to these issues, George C. Rockas, Esq. '84, served as conference planning chairman for Religious Freedom: Turkey's Bridge to the European Union, the International Archon Religious Freedom Conference, held in Brussels, November 16-17, 2010, at the European Parliament.
Rockas is a member of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He is also managing partner of the Boston office of Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP.
Rockas asked Law School Professor Muna B. Ndulo to speak at the conference, on a panel entitled "Religious Freedom: Legal and Humanitarian Perspectives."
"He was the first one I called," Rockas said. "He's not just a teacher, scholar, and writer - he goes out into the field and does it. That's a rare combination." At the conference, said Rockas, "Muna brought the issues down to a practical level."
Important people from many religious groups attended the conference, as did Egemen Bagis, Turkey's Minister for European Union Affairs. "We wanted to bring together minorities so they'll work together to solve their common problems," Rockas explained. "After the conference, people who never interacted have been talking together and e-mailing one another."