Turkey: a mixed bag for religious freedom

Turkey can be a difficult country to interpret. On the one hand, legal conversion there is possible and I very much appreciate that. On the other hand, the notions of identity there mean that anyone who leaves Islam is understood to have betrayed the Turkish people.

But here is a little bit of good news:
For almost a century, the bells of St. Giragos, a magnificent 14th-century church built of sturdy black basalt bricks, were silent.

Severely damaged during the 1915 massacre and deportation of local Christians, it stood roofless and abandoned for decades, a poignant reminder of the void left by the killing of its congregants.
Yet for several months now the tolling of bells can once again be heard emanating from the belfry and echoing through the city’s narrow alleyways and busy markets.

St. Giragos recently underwent an extensive $3 million dollar restoration that included a new roof, the reconstruction of all seven of its original altars—a unique feature for a church, which usually has just one—and the return of an iron bell to its belfry.

“Right now the bells are just symbolic,” said Arahim Demirciyen, an ethnic Armenian who rings the bells twice a day. “A priest is currently in training in the Armenian quarter in Jerusalem. When he finishes and arrives here we can also start holding regular weekly services.”
Well, God bless this small community, and may this church be willing to welcome believers in Christ from among the Turks and Kurds and not only the Armenians. From HERE.

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