10/06/2020, 10.06
TURKEY
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The first (Syriac) church built under Turkish Republic will open in 2021

by Marian Demir

President Erdogan participated in the laying of the foundation stone in 2019. In Istanbul the Syriac community is made up of about 18,000 people. The government is accused of Islamizing the nation, also transforming the ancient museum-churches into mosques, as happened with the Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Savior in Chora.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The first church built since the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, should be open for worship in August 2021. Construction work is progressing and the church is almost finished.

The building belongs to the Syriac Orthodox Church and will be dedicated to Mor Efrem (Saint Ephrem). It is located in the Yeşilköy district. The laying of the foundation stone ceremony took place in August 2019, with the participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The building should serve the Syriac community which in Istanbul comprises about 18,000 people.

The Church is built on land that belonged to the Latin Catholic Church and was part of an Italian cemetery. This  Syriac Church is the first Church to be built in the times of the Turkish Republic.

In recent years, Turkey has restored and reopened several churches, but the government is accused of Islamizing the nation, even turning the ancient museum-churches into mosques, as has been the case with the Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Savior in Chora.

Christians make up 0.2% of the Turkish population. The various minorities and rites complain of being treated as second class citizens, compared to the Muslim majority.

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