Turkey: Mosques Flourish, Churches Languish

September 1, 2020

Persecution of Christians in Turkey: the decay of the the Armenian Oshvank Church in Uzundere and the Italian Church in Edirne demonstrates the same contempt for the Christian history and heritage of Asia Minor that we see in the conversion of Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora to mosques, and the conversion of other ancient churches to mosques as well. This contempt for Christianity and Christians is also manifested in the ongoing denial of property rights and legal identity to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Turkey, see here.

“Mosques Flourish, Churches Languish in Turkey,” International Christian Concern, September 1, 2020:

09/01/2020 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – News reports from Turkey indicate two more churches are left to languish. Locals have raised concern for the welfare of both the Armenian Oshvank Church in Uzundere and the Italian Church in Erdirne [sic].

These two churches are located at the extreme eastern and western borders of Turkey. Yet despite their geographical distance, they share in common the problem of treasure hunters and the homeless. In the case of the Armenian Church, it actually received approval for restoration two years ago. However, renovation has not yet begun. Locals are expressing concern that the church may collapse on the nearby mosque if renovations do not start soon. The Italian Church is awaiting an evaluation for restoration, and locals have also expressed discomfort with its current status.

Many of Turkey’s historical churches are empty because of decades of multi-faceted persecution. Turkey does not recognize the corporate identity of Christian community, making it difficult for churches to exercise their rights, including the right to upkeep and maintain their own property. Consequently, Christians are often forced to rely upon the state for the care of these historic properties. It is also worth noting that much of the historic Christian presence in Turkey was eliminated because of the Ottoman-era genocide.