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Turkey Allows Construction of First New Church in Nearly a Century

By Doron (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Max Lindenman - published on 01/05/15 - updated on 06/07/17

The AK Party government has shown itself exceedingly reluctant to condemn acts of anti-Christian violence emerging explicitly from Islamic zeal.  In 2010, after a Turk named Murat Altun murdered and beheaded Anatolian Apostolic Vicar Luigi Padovese, crying, “Allahu Akbar,” official sources discounted any religious motive, claiming, variously, that Altun was a mental patient, a convert to Catholicism, and a survivor of priestly sexual abuse.

In August of 2014, during a baptism at St. Stephen Catholic Church — one of the Yeşilköy churches sometimes used by Syriacs — a group of men stormed the chapel and began verbally abusing the congregation.  When a church official confronted them, one pulled a knife.  Though nobody was hurt, the official later claimed the same men had vandalized the church earlier that year.  He also claimed that three cruising police cars ignored his pleas for help.

But Yeşilköy’s Christians have their local allies, who have formed the Yeşilköy Solidarity Platform.  Several days before being invaded by armed men, St. Stephen Catholic church invited members to an Iftar, or sundown meal where Muslims break their Ramadan fast.  Along with St. Stephen’s pastor, Father Roberto Ferrari, guests included Sait Susin, head of the Syriac Church’s executive board, and Bülent Kerimoğlu, mayor of Bakırköy, the municipality of which Yeşilköy forms a part. 

After the attack, reports Today’s Zaman, Yeşilköy Solidarity Platform founder Arev Cebeci “said that Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II had issued an edict against harassment of non-Muslims by his army.”  Speaking on behalf of the Syriac Church, executive board head Sait Susin “said he was happy to see that people had shown sensitivity towards the incident.”

Max Lindenman
writes from Turkey.

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Christians in the Middle EastTurkey
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