Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Protestants and Mor Gabriel on agenda at Merkel’s visit

Mor Gabriel Monastery and the Malatya Zirve Publishing House Massacre were among the main agenda topics during talks in Ankara on Feb. 25, in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with various spiritual leaders. Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew, Acting Patriarch Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva, Syriac Mor Gabriel Monastery’s Metropolitan Archbishop Samuel Aktaş, the Turkish Syriac Catholic Deputy Patriarch Chorepiscopus Yusuf Sağ, and Ümit Şahin, Protestant Churches Association General Secretary and Coordinator of the Association’s Committee on Religious Freedom, were present in the meeting, which was held in the Official Residence of the Prime Ministry. “We at least saw that the state values and accepts us on legitimate grounds. We hope to be a part of the dialogue process from now on,” Ümit Şahin said. Şahin also said they mostly focused on the Zirve massacre case and the problems Suzanna Geske – the wife of massacre victim Tillman Geske – faced regarding her Turkish citizenship, excluding religion boxes on ID cards, and various issues concerning the church building. “Geske’s application for Turkish citizenship was rejected, and she appealed it for the second time. The Prime Minister told his advisors to deal with the matter,” Şahin said. Three missionaries – German citizen Tillman Geske and two Turks, Necati Aydın and Uğur Yüksel – were tied up and tortured before their throats were slit at the Zirve Publishing House, a Christian publisher in the eastern province of Malatya, on April 18, 2007. Link

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