Thousands of Christians celebrate Easter across Turkey
ISTANBULThousands of Christians have started celebrating Easter across Turkey, Doğan News Agency has reported.
Religious ceremonies were conducted mostly in the southern provinces of Hatay and Mersin, the Marmara province of Edirne and the southeastern province of Mardin.
Many Christians gathered in the Aya Yorgi Greek Orthodox Church for the ceremony officiated by the Fener Greek Patriarch Dimitri Bartholomeos in Istanbul.
Syriac Christians in Mardin also marked Easter at the Kırklar Church after they cast their votes for the referendum in historic Midyat district.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has wished a Happy Easter to all Christians celebrating the religious holiday on April 16, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
“We place great importance on our citizens’ ability to live in accordance with their religion, culture and traditions freely, whatever their faith, religion, sect or ethnic background may be in our country,” Erdoğan said in a written statement.
He said Turkey was located in a region that sees differences as part of its rich heritage. He also said he hoped the peaceful coexistence of different religions and sects in the area for hundreds of years would constitute an example to the entire world.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also wished a Happy Easter to Christians in a written statement.
Yıldırım said Turkey had been a symbol of peace and tolerance for hundreds of years with its churches, synagogues and mosques sharing the same streets.
In addition, Culture and Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı wished Christians a Happy Easter in a separate written statement on April 16.
Avcı emphasized the importance of respecting different traditions, cultures and faiths.
Around 150,000 Christians are thought to be currently living in Turkey.
Easter marks what Christians believe to be the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion.