NEWS

Religious rights ignored

The question of reopening the Halki theological school needs to be approached in the same light, especially after Erdogan’s promises appear to have evaporated. The refusal by the Turkish authorities is in breach of the minority’s religious rights, as is the expropriation of churches and cemeteries. In Istanbul, most Greek cemeteries have fallen into the hands of the municipality. Today, Ankara has no legal pretext not to open the theological school, since the law allows the operation of private higher institutions, of which there are many in Turkey. There is a broader problem with religious freedoms in Turkey. It is not simply that 27 monasteries, including the famous Pantocrator Monastery, continue to function as mosques (expressly forbidden by Islam); it is that even today, Orthodox monuments are subject to destruction. Even though the major problem is the properties of charitable institutions, private property is also not exempt from seizure, as is witnessed by the seizure of large expanses owned by the Zarifis family on the isle of Antigone in the Sea of Marmara.