Syriac churches in Turkey hold first ritual in 30 years

the-first-ritual-took-place-in-assyrian-churches-after-30-years-2010-08-05_l1.jpgMEHMET HALÄ°S Ä°Åž
MARDÄ°N – Radikal
A total of 87 Syriac families who returned from living in Europe spent 600,000 Turkish Liras to repair, restore and upgrade two historical churches in Mardin. DHA

The return of Syriac Christians who fled terrorism and violence in Southeast Turkey in the 1980s has prompted the refurbishment and reopening for prayers of two churches that had been closed for three decades.

Eighty-seven Syriac families who returned from living in Europe spent 600,000 Turkish Liras to repair, restore and upgrade the historical Mor Eşayo and Mor Kuryakuş churches in Midyat’s Yemişli village, part of the southeastern province of Mardin.

Both churches had been closed to religious ceremonies since the last rituals were performed there 30 years ago. They were repaired according to their original plans, using regional Midyat stonemasonry and decorative techniques.

The opening ceremony for the 4th-century Mor EÅŸayo and 6th-century Mor KuryakuÅŸ churches was carried out by Mor Timetheos Samuel AktaÅŸ, the Turabdin Metropolitan bishop.

“The Syriacs living far away from their countries are actually living on this land mentally and spiritually. They want to continue the rest of their lives on this land,” Tuma Çelik, the vice president of the European Syriac Syriac Association, said at the ceremony.

“The existence of Syriacs is not recognized concretely within the [Turkish] Constitution. During the government’s democratic initiative process, Syriacs should be defined in the Constitution, too,” Çelik said. “There is infrastructure the state needs to build to improve social, cultural and economical conditions. If these can be completed, then the return of Syriacs will swiftly increase.”

The ritual in Midyat hosted hundreds of Syriacs coming from Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Iraq, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria and the United States. Midyat Gov. Fatih Akkaya, Deputy Mayor Mehmet Tevfik Baysal and Mehmet Ali Aslan, the head of the Mıhellemi Association, participated in the ceremony

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