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Historic churches in Turkey: “That leaves only four walls”

there are attacks on places of worship there can be no such protection orders in Turkey despite the historic churches and insults can be experienced. However, the laws state that all religious areas must be protected. By DW Burcu Karakaşwriting from …

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Surp Armenian Bulls in Kütahya churchtoday it no longer exists. Nothing remains of the church as it was destroyed by the owner. The history of the church, where the world famous musicologist Gomidas was baptized, dates back to the 17th century. Armenian community in Kütahya in 2019 Conservation of cultural heritage Surp Toros, which was registered as “Real property that must be protected” with the decision of the Regional Council, requested that the Armenian Church become a cultural center, but this request was not fulfilled. A date has also disappeared with the destruction of the church building, which was the last wedding hall, in recent weeks.

Church ads for sale

Rudi Sayat Pulatyan, who conducts research in the field of cultural heritage at the Hrant Dink Foundation, says that similar situations can be experienced due to ownership problems for historic buildings. “Churches, like mosques, are not owned by anyone. Today, however, people can be churches in Turkey, and they can be put up for sale. “He says. Due to the problem that Pulatyan drew attention to, there are sometimes” Church for sale “ads on websites.

“For example, if you are smuggling historical artifacts, you can’t open an ad that says ‘I’m doing something illegal,’ but this is not the case in churches. The person has the title to the property. It is up to him his grandfather or someone else.

Armenian church Surp Toros in Kütahya no longer exists today

“How can it be destroyed despite the protection order?”

The Hrant Dink Foundation has been working for the protection of cultural heritage since 2011. However, continuing with these studies is not always easy for several reasons. Studies are sometimes more difficult, especially in the small towns of Anatolia. Pulatyan explains the reason for this: “It is difficult to find out what is where there is no longer any trace of the Armenian or Greek or Jewish population. Imagine a magnificent church, now only four walls remain of that church. You can’t believe that the structure you see in the photo and what you see with your eyes are the same, ”he says.

Although decisions are made to protect historic buildings, as in the example of the destroyed church in Kütahya, these decisions are not always implemented. HDP deputy Garo Paylan asked in his parliamentary question about the destroyed church, how the church was demolished despite the conservation order, if an investigation was launched against the public officials who caused the demolition of the church and if there was an attempt to rebuild the church. church according to its original form.

Threat on the church wall, sound bomb on the door

Separate problems may arise for existing churches. What happened at the historic Germuş Church, located five kilometers from Göbeklitepe in Urfa, is just one example of the problems. In 2011, at the proposal of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Council of Ministers declared the church and its surroundings a “center of tourist development”. However, in recent weeks images of a church barbecue were reported in the press. Disrespectful behavior towards places of worship can sometimes be attacked.

You can find ads for churches for saleYou can find ads for churches for sale

Of the Freedom of Belief Initiative, Dr. Mine Yıldırım said: “We see that threatening graffiti can increase, especially during the Christmas season. “There can also be attacks such as littering in front of church buildings, throwing stones at their windows or throwing flammable materials during prayers.”

The text “This homeland is 25 from Erzurum is ours” written on the wall of the Armenian church Kadıköy Surp Takavor, where garbage was piled up in front of it in April 2018, the explosive sound was thrown at the door of the church building during the cult of the Protestant Church of Mardin in January 2019. Threat statements written on the wall of the Armenian church Surp Hreshdagabet in Balat district are among the recent attacks. Yıldırım says there may be attacks on cemeteries and threats against religious officials.

“The element of humiliating society is ignored”

Article 153 of the Turkish Penal Code regulates the prison sentence of up to four years for those who damage places of worship. This punishment increases by one third if the attack is committed with the aim of humiliating the community in relation to the place of worship. But, according to Yildirim, there are also problems in this regard.

“How many complaints do societies make that they are stoned, broken glass, spilled garbage or graffiti written on their walls? The element of insulting or insulting the relevant segment of society is largely ignored. “

Church of the Virgin Mary in KütahyaChurch of the Virgin Mary in Kütahya

Yildirim says that the punishments imposed can be converted into fines or postponed only when they are assessed as harmful to a place of worship or a cemetery, and that impunity can cause similar cases to recur.

Association of the Protestant Church, “Follow-up report on human rights violations of 2019”, the need that reminded the national and international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Turkey of religion and freedom of belief, considered one of the most fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Mine Yıldırım emphasizes that there are many United Nations resolutions on the protection of places of worship. “According to the law, the religious areas of all religions or beliefs must be protected,” he says.

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