Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch

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His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim Meets with the Speaker of the Parliament of Turkey Mr. Mehmet Ali Şahin

The Turkish Council General Mehmet Samsar of New York invited His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim to meet with the Speaker of the parliament of Turkey Mr. Mehmet Ali Şahin on Wednesday, March 23rd. His Eminence was accompanied by Fr. Aziz H. Hadodo, Sait Samuel, Gabriel Akyon, Aziz Akyon, Lahdo Yildiz and Sami Gelin. Speaker Şahin was accompanied by delegates from Turkey, including Congressman Suat Kınıklıoğlu, Ambassador Namık Tan of Washıngton D.C., Councıl General Mehmet Samsar, and Assistant Councıl General Ayşe Üzer. Turkish media organizations TRT and Anatolia News Agency also were present at the meeting.

The main topic of discussion was Mor Gabriel Monastery’s land issues in Turkey. The discussion covered also a guest house built in the town of Hazakh (Idil) next to a local church, as well as a land grant to build a new church in Istanbul. The questions His Eminence posed were friendly but firm. Mr. Şahin’s answers were sincere and affirming. The speaker’s dedication to working with our community was evident when phone calls were made to resolve the Hazakh guest house issue. We were assured that the building would not be demolished, as previously decided, and that the community there would be satisfied with the outcome.

Mor Gabriel’s Monastery is currently in litigation with the Supreme Court of Turkey. If Mor Gabriel is denied any land rights in the lawsuits, Mr. Şahin assured His Eminence and the attendees that the Turkish Government would do their utmost to help Mor Gabriel. When discussing the Istanbul land grant, Mr. Şahin said he would look into the case and try to find property suitable for our church needs.

His Eminence Karim and Speaker Şahin had a fruitful dialogue with positive outcomes to look forward to. Mr. Gabriel Akyon, one of the attendees, presented a short speech on the issues at hand. Fr. Aziz H. Hadodo also mentioned that all of the monasteries are part of a national heritage; they attract tourists to the country built in; and tens of thousands of saints are buried within our sacred and holy monasteries. The meeting was an excellent opportunity to raise some of the difficulties faced by our Syriac people in Turkey with the highest Turkish authorities.

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