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The position of Christians in Turkey

21 July 2010


From the Revd Dr Michael Brydon

Sir, — Professor Harriet Baber (Comment, 16 July) rightly reminds us of the decline of the Eastern Orthodox within the borders of Turkey. We need also to remember the Oriental Orthodox Churches. In particular, the Syriac Christians of south-east Turkey deserve to be better known as they struggle to maintain their historic presence.

In 1915, many Syriac Christians, together with the Armenian Christians, were slaughtered. During the 1990s, the population was further decimated by high levels of emigration, as they were caught in the crossfire between the Kurdish and Turkish forces.

The Syriacs still worship in a version of Aramaic, the language of Christ; so they are an important link with the Early Church. They also have much to teach us about real faith and trust in God, as they experience a time of trial. They and all the other indigenous Christians deserve our prayers.

The Rectory, Catsfield
East Sussex TN40 9DR

From the Revd Dr D. E. N. King

Sir, — I agree with Professor Baber that it is indeed sad that, in the great city of Istanbul, there are few reminders of Constantine’s vision of a “New Rome”. Indeed, the skyline is littered with current icons: minarets and mobile-phone aerials. But ask a Christian, and lively churches can be found — both international ones and Turkish-led churches for the locals.

Particularly as a minority — “sojourners in an alien country” — Christians support visitors, students, and each other. They also support their neighbours, showing that they are no threat to the majority. When I was a regular visitor to Antalya, the Turkish leader of his church was an occasional broadcaster.

What a pity that the Professor’s visit was such a disaster — and that she found “no fun” in her Islamic hosts and no sign of the small, but active, Christian community!

1 Eastcliff
Felixstowe Suffolk IP11 9TA

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