Friday, April 6, 2012

Recent Articles on Christianity in Turkey, Syria, Palestine

In one of Turkey's most religiously diverse provinces, close ties with Syria fuel support for Assad regime

 In Turkey, the civil strife in Syria has meant refugees streaming across the border. In mostly-Muslim Turkey, most Turks are staunchly on the side of the Sunni Muslims trying to overthrow Assad rule. But in Hatay province, a former Syrian province and one of the most diverse provinces in the country, more people support Assad, perhaps than anywhere outside of Syria.

It might sound a bit counter-intuitive: an Orthodox Christian priest praying in Arabic, in Turkey.His church is in Tokacli, one of the few Christian villages in mostly Muslim Turkey. [...]

See also the photo-gallery at the bottom of the article, which has pictures of the Orthodox church in Antioch.


Syria's Christians caught in the middle

Bishop Louka prides himself in belonging to the oldest Arab church.
Bishop Louka al-Khoury says Christians belong to their homeland, not to regimes
"Can you name one single Syrian party or political movement that did not have a Greek Orthodox among its leaders?"
I noticed the nostalgic tone in his words.
"Christian Syrians were accused of siding with the regime, but this is not true," he insisted.
"Syrians belong only to their homeland not to regimes, it's that patriotism Christians have that made them the first to sacrifice for their country.
"We have some fears no doubt, because we have never witnessed violence like that which we see on the ground now.
"But we don't side with a regime; we side with our country and with anybody who serves our homeland and our interests," Bishop Louka al-Khoury said.

A dark Easter for Palestinian Christians

[...] Because of travel restrictions in past years, the vast majority of Christians living in the West Bank have been stopped at checkpoints and prevented from attending one of the most important religious services of the year. Israeli authorities require permits for entering Jerusalem. Local Christians estimate that only 2,000 — 3,000 permits are provided, despite the overwhelming desire among the 50,000 Palestinian Christians to travel from the West Bank and Gaza for the Easter week celebrations in Jerusalem. [...]


Hopes to Revive the Christian Area of Turkey

 [...] A century ago, they numbered 200,000 here, according to the European Syriac Union, a diaspora organization. Some 50,000 survived the massacres of Anatolian Christians during World War I, in which the Syriac people shared the fate of the Armenians. Today, no more than 4,500 Syriac Christians, who speak a local dialect of the Aramaic language as well as Arabic, Turkish and Kurdish, remain in Tur Abdin.[...]

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