Turkey allows first new Christian church since 1923

(Abouna) For the first time in over 90 years, Turkey has permitted the construction of a new Christian church. Since the end of the Ottoman empire in 1923, only renovations of existing churches had been allowed.

At a meeting of religious representatives in Istanbul on Friday, January 2, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the Syriac Christian church will be built on state-owned land in the Istanbul district of Yesilkoy, which already has Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic churches. The construction work, however, will be paid for by the Syriac group.

There are currently approximately 100,000 Christians in Turkey, which has an almost exclusively Muslim population of 80 million.

Although Christians and other religious minorities are allowed to practise their religios in Turkey, they continue to face restrictions.

The Orthodox Church, for example, is forbidden from training its priests, and foreign clerics find it difficult to obtain work permits.