Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
July 23 2012

Turkish government shelling out to repair churches and synagogues

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

Surp Haç Church on the island of Akdamar in the eastern province of
Van was re-opened to worship in 2010 after it was left unattended for
95 years. AA photo

Göksel Bozkurt

A total of 69 churches and synagogues have been restored since 2002,
costing a total of 18 million Turkish Liras, a senior government
member has announced. The restoration of two synagogues and eight
churches are still ongoing in different parts of the country, Deputy
Prime Minister Bekir BozdaÄ? said.

BozdaÄ? discussed the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP)
record with regard to its assistance to the religious services of
non-Muslims, in a response to a parliamentary question from Mehmet
Å?andır, deputy parliamentary group leader of the Nationalist Movement
Party (MHP).

An allocation of 17,726,301 liras since 2002 has been granted by the
government, which has helped complete the renovation of 69 churches
and synagogues, BozdaÄ? stressed. The government also paid all the
costs of cleaning and lighting the churches, a total of nearly 70,000
liras over the last ten years. In the same period, 10 churches that
ceased their activities long ago have again begun giving religious
services after being fully renovated.

According to information provided by the General Directorate of
Foundations, renovated churches as of the end of 2011 are the
Çanakkale Gökçeada St. Nicholas Church, Hatay Ä°skenderun Syrian
Catholic Church, Hatay Ä°skenderun Greek Catholic Church, Diyarbakir
Armenian Protestant Church, and the Diyarbakır Armenian Catholic

The renovation of the Edirne Central Synagogue, known as the Big
Synagogue, is still ongoing. Those which are still planned to be
restored are the Ayvalık Cunda Taksiyarhis (St. Nicholas) Church,
Gaziantep Nizip Fevkani Church, Gökçeada Yıldız Village Monastery,
Gökçeada Ayia Marina Greek Orthodox Church, Gaziantep Å?ahinbey
Synagogue, Kilis Central Synagogue, and the Hatay YayladaÄ?ı Greek
Orthodox Church.

The government is frequently criticized for being unwilling to improve
the conditions of worship for non-Muslims living in Turkey. Reports
from the European Union and the United States urge the government to
do more to address the freedom of religion of non-Muslims.