Turkey: Syriac Orthodox Christians under Pressure

It’s one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world: the Syriac Orthodox Mor Gabriel Monastery in south-eastern Turkey. But the order lives in conflict with the surrounding Kurdish villages.

Several lawsuits have been brought accusing the monastery of having illegally appropriated the land surrounding it. And the national forest authority is one of the plaintiffs. The monastery’s abbot considers this to be a sign of religious discrimination. In the past few years, members of the Syriac Orthodox church have been returning in increasing numbers to make a fresh start in their homes around the holy mountain Tur Abdin. More than 300,000 Christians left the country in previous decades to escape persecution and oppression.