Three years after a Syrian Orthodox foundation applied to build a church in Istanbul, Turkey, the Greater Istanbul Municipality has granted them a large plot of land and a building permit.
The only catch? The land is actually a Latin Catholic graveyard.
Banner headlines in the Turkish media praised the early-December decision as "a first in the history of the Republic," declaring that never before had Turkey allowed a non-Muslim minority to build an official new house of worship. (Existing churches in Turkey predate the republic's founding in 1923.) Still, Syriac Christians were far from pleased because the land they were granted does not rightfully belong to the city.
"We don't want a Syriac church on top of a cemetery!" the website suryaniler.com stated. "This is a big scandal."
The graveyard had been donated back in 1868 to the Italian Catholic Church but was officially registered as Catholic property in 1936, although later confiscated in 1951 by Istanbul officials.
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