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Turkish officials walk back part of order transferring Christian properties to government


Senol Demir | CC

John Burger - published on 07/07/17 - updated on 07/07/17

Reallocation of Syriac monastery, churches and cemeteries halted for now, but properties are still registered with the Treasury.

The Turkish Doğan News Agency reported that a three-year-old decision to transfer the deeds of Christian properties to the federal Office of Religious Affairs has been canceled.

But the governor’s office in the southeastern province of Mardin says the properties are still registered with the Treasury.

Kuryakos Ergün, head of the Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation, was present at the committee meeting on Monday when the order of redistribution was cancelled. Ergün said the case was still unsolved for the monastery foundation until ownership of the properties is transferred to it. He vowed that the foundation’s legal fight would continue.

The case involves about 50 churches and monasteries belonging to Syriac Christians. After the villages where they are located were incorporated into the metropolitan municipality of Mardin, the Governorate of Mardin established a liquidation committee, which started to redistribute the properties of various institutions. The committee registered the churches, monasteries and cemeteries belonging to the Syriac communities in the province with the Treasury and allocated them to the Diyanet, Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs.

On Monday, officials walked back that allocation and said the use of the monasteries and churches would continue “as it stands,” adding that a legal amendment would be needed for the cancellation of the registration decision.

Christians in the Middle East
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