Sunday, January 01, 2017

Turkey: Historic Urfa Church Given to Islamic School Foundation

Yet another example of intolerance has taken place in the southeastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa (Urfa)—the historic Assyrian Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in the city is now being used as a municipality-owned cultural center and the foundation of the Islamic school of Harran University.

According to sources, the church was used actively until 1924, when Assyrians (Syriac Christians) left for Aleppo.

Locals call the church “the Regie Church”, because Tekel, the Turkish tobacco and alcoholic beverage company, had once used it as a tobacco factory.  This tobacco factory had been known as the Regie Tobacco Company in Ottoman times, and was nationalized in 1925.
It was also used as a grape storehouse for decades. After its restoration in 1998, it hosted a carpet-making class. In 2002, it became the “Kemalettin Gazezoglu Cultural Center,” named after the governor of the city. Today, a part of it has been given to a foundation that runs the Islamic school at the city’s university.
Turkey has used the historic church for many different purposes—except for its intended purpose: a church.

Erdogan slammed over Christmas message of tolerance while American missionary is still imprisoned in Turkey

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been slammed for delivering a Christmas message praising the country's "culture of tolerance" while an American pastor is still imprisoned in the country over false charges.

On Saturday, President Erdogan released his Christmas greetings to Turkish Christian citizens and to Christians everywhere. He said the country's culture of tolerance has allowed various traditions and beliefs to co-exist peacefully, Andalou Agency details.
"We, the members of this deep-rooted tradition, continue to embrace all the oppressed who have escaped war, oppression, and pressure," said Erdogan in his Christmas message. "The centuries-old tolerant environment in our country which has hosted different civilizations, different beliefs, and ideas throughout history, continues its existence today despite the various assaults against our nation's unity and peace."
However, The Blaze criticized Erdogan for speaking about hope and tolerance while North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson is still jailed in Turkey over trumped-up charges. For the publication, the Turkish president's Christmas message is a clear contrast to the situation of persecuted and imprisoned pastors in the Middle Eastern country.

Turkey denies appeal for jailed Christian pastor

Turkish officials Thursday denied the appeal of imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was jailed in October on claims by officials that he held “membership in an armed terrorist organization.”
The American Center for Law and Justice, which is defending Brunson, said the claims are simply trumped up.
On Thursday, they pointed out that “the charging documents do not present any evidence against him.”
Brunson unsuccessfully appealed his detention.
ACLJ said another appeal to a higher court is allowed, but it is uncertain how that appeal process will go.
Previously, the legal group said, Brunson was denied access to his Turkish attorney.
“Now, he is allowed visits with his Turkish attorney – however, due to an emergency decree in Turkey, those visits are recorded and any notes taken by his attorney are copied. Thus, Pastor Andrew has no attorney-client privilege,” ACLJ said.
“Yesterday, Pastor Andrew was allowed a visit with family. During that visit, Pastor Andrew indicated that, while he had been previously denied a Bible, he is now allowed to have a New Testament. Pastor Andrew also has a visit with U.S. Embassy officials scheduled for tomorrow.
“We are continuing our diplomatic efforts to engage the incoming U.S. administration, and moving forward with an appeal of his case,” ACLJ said.

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