Syriac community given green light for kindergarten

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Sait Susin, the President of the Meryem Ana Church Foundation in Istanbul. DHA photo
Turkey’s Syriacs have been granted an approval from Ankara to open a kindergarten, a prominent member of the community told the Hürriyet Daily News.

The Syriac community in Turkey, which has a population of around 15,000, has been granted approval by Ankara to open a Syriac kindergarten. This decision constitutes a first for such a move in the Republic’s history of 90 years, Sait Susin, the President of the Meryem Ana Church Foundation in Istanbul, told the Daily News that they were very happy about the decision.

“It is an extremely sound decision. It would have been abnormal not to allow such a demand. This will be a first step for education in mother tongue,” said Susin.

In response to a question about whether they would take this approval one step further and demand the opening of Syriac elementary and middle schools, Susin said this approval was a first step and the process should be observed carefully.

Syriacs had taken their demand to open a kindergarten to court about a year ago, when their demand had been declined.

Stating that they had first pressed charges against the Provincial Directorate for National Education, Susin said approval for the Syriac community to open a kindergarten was granted only one and a half months after the court case was filed.

“There was a legal process and we finalized that [process],” said Susin, adding that he did not share the idea that it was a long-lasting struggle.

The Syriac population that resides mostly in Istanbul does not have a church. Though negotiations with the state have been ongoing, a consensus has not yet been reached. Susin said the kindergarten and church issues were separate from each other and should be evaluated accordingly.

“The attempt to open a kindergarten and the demand for [constructing] a church are two different issues. The process is ongoing and we are hopeful that it will conclude in a positive way,” Susin said.