Officials have approved the construction of the first Syriac Christian church in Istanbul.
The church, set to be built in the Yesilkoy neighbourhood of Istanbul will host the 17,000 Syriacs that currently live in Istanbul. Many Syriac’s first moved to Turkey in the 80s seeking a safe haven amid political struggles in the southeast.
A Syriac community leader, Kenan Altinisik, head of the Syriac community’s Foundation for the Church of Mother Mary said: “Half of our community lives in and around Yesilkoy. We rent churches for Sunday rites, but we can only start morning mass at 11:30, whereas we are supposed to finish our Sunday rites before 10:30 in accordance with our tradition.”
The architecture of the church is expected to symbolise the culture of the Syriacs which stretches back thousands of years.
Representatives from the Syriac community held many talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, and Turkish EU Minister Egemen Bagis. The talks were regarding the allocation of land and various other factors for construction of the church.
The move to build a Syriac Christian church in Istanbul is a significant move by the city. Istanbul is Turkey’s largest populated city with more than 12 million people living in Istanbul. Freedom in Turkey is a sensitive issue, Turkey is currently developing and growing and the future of Turkey looks bright with new reforms and laws making it easier to live and work in Turkey.