Church land rises Syriacs’ reactions

Church land rises Syriacs’ reactions

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Church land rises Syriacs’ reactions

Some Syriacs say they delivered the land to Syriac people in order to silence them on the matter of controvesial Mor Gabriel Monastery (above). Hürriyet photo

Syriac intellectuals released an announcement yesterday protesting the allocation of Latin Catholic land for a new Syriac church project in Istanbul.

The announcement, titled “We do not want a Syriac church over the bones of dead,” referred to an attempt to take the historical Mor Gabriel Monastery from them.

“We think delivering another community’s cemetery land to Syriacs for a church building is a pay-off in the face of the Supreme Court of Appeals’ unjust decision to invade the land belonging to the monastery. After this scandalous decision, the political will tries to brainwash Syriacs and the public in order to create a good impression. Syriacs have the right to found their own church, but we do not want such a solution. The cemetery land allocated [for the Syriac church] must be returned to its owners and other land that would not pose any problems must be granted to the Syriacs,” the announcement read.

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality granted land to Turkey’s Syriac community on Dec. 10 for the purpose of constructing its first official church in Istanbul, but it became the subject of controversy after Latin Catholics said the land in question legally belongs to them.

Bakırköy deputy mayor Yervant Özuzun told the Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 10 that a part of the land was delivered to the Syriac community. Özuzun said the land was a protected area with a chapel and graveyards, adding that they received required authorization from the Monuments Board and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

“Only a part of the cemetery was allocated [to the Syriac community]. And the conditions of protecting the chapel and gathering the graveyards in one specific point were achieved. The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has possessed the land since 1951,” Özuzun said.