Recep Guvelioglu

The New Anatolian, Turkey
May 2 2006

I was going to write another article about the Armenian genocide
claims. But after I read a news item in the newspaper Sabah, I changed
my mind.

According to the report, a cultural and political crisis occurred
in Bergama, a town whose biblical name is Pergamum. Greek Fener
Patriarch Bartholemeos wanted to organize a special religious ceremony
for St. John's Day. All the local leaders of political parties --
with the exception of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party
- submitted a petition to the local authority, demanding that no
permission be given to this ritual: They claimed that Bartholemeos
wants to create a positive atmosphere for his claims to have an
ecumenical status. But the mayor of Bergama, who is a member of the
AK Party, Rasit Urper, rejected that idea and gave the permission for
this special ceremony. Urper said: "What age are we living in? We
started this event to boost faith tourism three years ago. They're
trying to mix politics up with this event."

Personally I congratulate the mayor of Bergama, Mr. Urper.

What really bothers me is the "mentality of the other side."

Let me give you an example. Let's say that as a devoted Muslim you
would like to organize "Mevlud" in one of the European cities, but
the municipal authority doesn't give you permission. What would you do?

What would your reaction be?

The claim that the patriarch wants to create a positive atmosphere
for his ecumenical status by organizing St. John's Day in Bergama is
also funny. As a patriarch it is part of his duty to do this. This
event will not add any power to him. What it would add is tourism to
the region.

This kind of event enriches faith tourism. It creates an extra spending
opportunity for regular tourists.

There is another point I should add.

Bergama (Pergamum) has an importance in Christian history. It is the
site of one of the seven churches mentioned in the New Testament.

So if Christians organize a religious ceremony there, why should this
bother us? Would it not be their right to do so?

If you say "no," then why are you trying to get Turkey into the
European Union?

Why are you trying to be included in the civilized world?

St. John and other apostles are also mentioned in our Koran as "Ensar"
(supporter of Jesus Christ). To a certain extent we Muslims recognize

Then why are we getting bothered about their religious ceremony?

St. John described Pergamum as "Satan's throne," mostly because of
the Temple of Zeus which existed there. Now that great monumental
temple can't be seen there. It's in Berlin. Because of the negligence
of our people. The negligence of narrow-minded people.

Bigotry and negligence have destroyed many historical artifacts in
this beautiful land.

That's why I would like thank Mr. Urper again and again .At least he
saved us from a great shame.
From: Baghdasarian