01/23/2019 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Earlier this month, Turkey announced that the construction of the country’s first new church would begin next February. While there are several churches throughout Turkey, all are historic. This would be the first church to be constructed in the modern Republic of Turkey. However, controversy has arisen over the government’s decision on where to place the church: on a Christian graveyard.
The plot of land allocated to this new church lies inside the disused Latin Catholic Cemetery. The property was seized by the state after the last burial in 1950, as is common with the properties of many religious minorities in Turkey. The property is now being used to build a new Syriac Church, briefly causing tensions between the two denominations before they were resolved in 2017.
With the announcement that construction will begin next month, new controversy has risen up. Turkey’s only Syriac parliament member has called into question the state’s decision to build the church on a Christian graveyard when there are dozens of other plots available. Complaints have also arisen that there are no permissions required to build a mosque, but it has taken decades for the government to decide to give permission for the building of a new church.