Turkey: Oldest Christian monastery at risk

“The heads of the three neighbouring Muslim villages, Kurds with the Belebi tribe, filed a lawsuit against the monastery years ago with the support of an MP member of the Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Under the lawsuit, the Syriacs are accused of practicing ‘anti-Turkish activities’ by providing an education to young people, including non Christians, and of illegally occupying land which belongs to the neighbouring villages.

After a number of contrasting verdicts, the highest appeals court in Ankara, which is close to the government, has ruled in favour of the village chiefs and said the land which has been part of the monastery for 1,600 years is not its property, Turkish newspaper Zaman reported.

The lawsuit also claimed that the sanctuary was built over the ruins of a mosque, forgetting that Mohammed was born 170 years after its foundation.

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