Monday, July 16, 2007

Turkish Oppression of Ecumenical Patriarchate Continues

AsiaNews reports more of the Turkish government's oppression of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

TURKEY:Nationalists force the cancellation of a concert wanted by the Patriarch of Constantinople

Following pressure form extremist groups, the Turkish authorities revoke permission for an event which was due to close the II Conference of Orthodox Youth tomorrow. “Disapproval” expressed by the academic and diplomatic world: a “damaging” move for the image of the country.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Yet more tensions between the Turkish Authorities and the Ecumenical Patriarchate: today permission was revoked for the concert of the famous Greek singer song writer Dallara, also well known in Turkey, which was to have closet the II Conference of Orthodox Youth organised by the Patriarchate in Istanbul. The move comes in the wake of pressure exerted by Turkish nationalists strongly opposed to the initiative.

The diplomatic and academic world describes the move as “damaging to the country’s image” and expresses their “great disapproval”. Conference participant’s number one thousand, gathered in Istanbul since July 12th, while a further 2 thousand had been invited to the concert among them civil authorities and embassy representatives. The event was to have taken place in the historic Istanbul castle, Rumeeli Hisari.

Recent weeks have seen an increased pressure against the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the part of the Turkish authorities: June 26th the Supreme Court contested the title “ecumenical” of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, defining it simply as a “Turkish” body, and spiritual guide of the Greek-orthodox minority in the country. According to the court, Bartholomew I can no longer use the title “Ecumenical Patriarch” for the Orthodox world.

The full respect of minorities and religious freedom is one of the principal themes on the agenda in negotiations for Ankara’s entrance to the European Union. The question of the recognition of the juridical character of the non Muslim communities is the first which needs to be addressed in order to insure that which is still not possible in the country today, such as for example the formation of religious and the acquisition of property. (NT)

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