Church Conversion in Turkey Begins

ISTANBUL (Noyan Tapan) — Turkish authorities have started converting an Armenian church–located in the Yakutiye village in the city of Erzerum–into a mosque.

According to Turkish authorities–"there are no Christians in the village and the conversion of the church into a mosque will be much more useful."

According to the Istanbul-based Armenian Marmara newspaper–the Patriarch of Istanbul– Karekin Kazandjian did not appreciate the Catholicos Aram I’s appeal to the World Council of Churches for mediation. The Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia had asked the Geneva-based ecumenical group to appeal to the Turkish authorities to prohibit the desecration of the Armenian church.

Patriarch Kazandjian announced that the church was under the jurisdiction of the Istanbul Patriarchate and nobody was entitled to interfere into this matter and–if necessary–the Patriarchate would appeal to Turkish authorities without anybody’s interference–Marmara reported.

In a recent letter addressed to UNESCO director Federico Mayor–the Los Angeles-based Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America expressed concern over the destruction of the 17th century church.

"The absence of the Armenian population in the Yakutiye village of Erzerum is a result of historic events–and it should not be a reason for turning the church into a mosque. All churches located on this territory must be saved not only because they are important for Armenia’s–but also because they are historic monumen’s testifying to the rich historic and architectural heritage," the AESA said in the letter.

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