Turkey gets new church for first time

ISTANBUL – In Istanbul, for the first time in the almost 90 year old history of the republic, a new church will be built. The municipality of Istanbul has given its permission, and the church, which will belong to the Suryani community, will take about three years to build. Turkish media reported that on Monday.

The church will be built on a site where, up until the nineteen sixties a chapel and a cemetery of the Suryani’s were in use. They will be restored.

In Turkey it is difficult to officially establish a church, partly because of the high level of suspicion of Christian churches. There have been court cases going on for years between the state and several religious minorities, among others the Armenian and Greek Orthodox. The Suryani’s have been entangled in one of the most notorious cases, which centres on  the ownership of land around the famous Mor Gabriel monastery in the Southeast of Turkey.

Some ten thousand Suryani’s live in Istanbul. It is the second biggest (Christian) religious minority in the city, after the Armenians.

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