10/08/2011, 00.00
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Istanbul to have first Syrian church built in the city

The Syrian Christian community has achieved, after many years, permission to build its own place of worship from the Government and the President. In Istanbul there are about 17 thousand Syrians, who mostly fled coming from the south east of the country in the mid 80s.
Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Syrian Christian community in Turkey has received approval for the construction of its first church in turkish territory. The building should be built in the district of Yesilkoy, Istanbul, and should meet the needs of a community of about 17 thousand Syrians living in the metropolis. After years of discussion and caveats, the approval came from the Turkish Prime Minister and President. The leader of the Syriac community, Kenan Altınışık said that work will begin as soon as the location has been chosen.

"Half of our community live in the neighborhood of Yeşilköy, or the surrounding area. We rent churches for Sunday celebrations, but we can begin to celebrate only at 11.30, while, according to our tradition, the ceremony should end by 10.30 am, "says Kenan Altınışık.

The land for the construction of the church will be assigned to the ancient Christian community by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, construction costs will be covered by the Syrians. A City Hall official said that they are already looking for a suitable land available for building the new church. The building will be built in a style with clear traces of the ancient Syriac culture. Contacts are ongoing between the community and officials to find a location that is satisfactory. In addition to the church a community center will also be built, the title given to the new place of worship will be "Church of Mother Mary ". The Syrians come mainly from the southeast of the country. Many of them migrated to Istanbul and abroad in the mid-80s, because of political instability in the region at the time.
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