Thursday, August 20, 2009
A little less talk a lot more action from Turkish Authorities
On August 15, the day of the feast commemorating the Assumption of Virgin Mary and celebrated by Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, Greek pilgrims from many countries made a pilgrimage to the Panagia Soumela Monastery, about 20 km away from Trabzon. They arrived to pay homage to the sacred places, but the Turkish authorities’ plans were different. At the airport they demanded that clergymen take off their crosses and cloaks. The passengers on the ships that arrived from Georgia, as well as on the eight ships from Greece, were not allowed to go ashore.For unknown reasons the Turkish authorities informed their Greek counterparts that some ceremonies at the Panagia Soumela monastery with pilgrims’ participation have been banned this year. Ivan Savvidis, a member of the Inter-Greek Council, called the Turkish authorities’ actions a violation of human rights.The religious ceremony was held in the presence of numerous pilgrims, but interrupted by Turkish officials, who began to pour water on candles and confiscated them thereby trying to stop the service. Since religious services have been held at the monastery from year to year, the Turkish authorities’ actions can be called barbarity that can be a precondition for similar manifestations of primitive savagery in the future.It is noteworthy that the aforementioned events occurred just a few days after Turkish Premier Recep Erdogan held a meeting with representatives of Turkey’s national minorities, including Patriarch Bartholomew of the Greek Orthodox Church. Premier Erdogan was speaking of lofty matters and of love for neighbors in the name of Allah – irrespective of nationality. However, Erdogan must have overestimated the “archetypal nature” of some parts of his own people. The Turkish authorities’ actions are evidence thereof.