Let them into the EU! Here is an Islamic Tolerance Alert from modern, moderate, secular, beacon-of-democracy-in-the-Islamic-world Turkey. An update on this story. “Turkish State Escalates Legal Battle Against Assyrian Monastery,” by Abdulmesih BarAbrahem for AINA, February 6 (thanks to James):
Tur Abdin, Turkey (AINA) — Contrary to the expectation that the Turkish authorities might change the course of events and establish some barriers to protect the monastery of St. Gabriel from the arbitrary claims of the neighbouring villages, the state itself is now increasing the legal pressure by filing a new claim at the cadastre court in Midyat, claiming further pieces of land that belong to St. Gabriel.
Across European parliaments, many politicians are observing with surprise and deep worry, how a few neighbouring Muslim villages, with legal support of the state, pressure one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world. Numerous appeals by politicians, churches and human rights organizations sent to the government in Ankara ask for state protection of the remaining Christians and for the freedom of religion in Turkey.
According to European diplomats, Erdogan’s government is aware of the explosiveness of the case. The EU has underlined its strong interest in this matter, particularly expressed through the deployment of the Swedish diplomat Helena Storm as an observer to the trial in late December in Midyat (AINA 1-21-2009). The topic of religious freedom in context of the accession negotiations with the EU is on the agenda. However, what EU observer have witnessed so far does not appear to be evidence of special respect and protection of the Christians as an indigenous population by a country that intends to join the EU.
As previously reported, based on several inspections and oral statements made last year by the heads of the three neighbouring villages, Yaylantepe, Eglence, and Candarli, the state claimed 276 hectares of monastery land. As a consequence, the disputed monastery forest has been allocated to become pasture land for the neighbouring villages. This contradicts the boundaries officially defined in 1938 between the monastery and the three villages. The documents of the monastery, which prove the ownership along with the evidence that the monastery paid property taxes are apparently ignored. Therefore, the monastery submitted a complaint with cadastre court in Midyat, where, after several hearings, the latest was held on December 19th, and decision postponed to February 11th. […]
What is behind this course of action? This question is raised by many observers of the case who cannot decipher the attitude of the government with regards to St. Gabriel. Why is the Turkish government escalating and complicating the problem?
It would probably be too easy and trivial to explain or answer the questions the way many Assyrians do, which is, that Turkey tries to drive out the remaining Christians from their historical homeland. Upon closer examination, the case appears much more subtle and complex, like many issues in Turkey. […]
These hints would strongly suggest that the members or followers of the AKP party, which are influential in southeast Turkey, backed by politicians, are capable of using the state and its judicial system to annex monastery land for the Kurdish villages; they are trying to demoralize the residents of the monastery by a continuous legal battle to compel surrender.…
Assyrian organizations in Germany organized a large protest rally on Sunday, January 25th in Berlin, where about 20,000 people from all over Germany and its neighbouring countries participated. Many German politicians, church representatives and human rights groups expressed their solidarity with the Assyrian monastery. Some of the posters the demonstrators carried through the streets of Berlin said: “What have we done to you?” which best characterizes the embitterment of hundreds of thousands of Assyrians living abroad, who themselves were driven out of Turkey over the past decades.
What indeed, other than being non-Muslims in an increasingly Sharia-influenced state?