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Turkey Converts Another Renowned Church into a Mosque

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International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on August 21, 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued an official order converting the Byzantine Holy Savior Chora Church into a mosque. This presidential order was issued nearly one month after Turkey converted the Hagia Sophia Cathedral into a mosque, and nine months after the Turkish Council of State approved changing the Chora Church into a mosque. The Chora Church, located in Istanbul, is considered second in renown compared to the Hagia Sophia.

The Chora Church was originally built in 534 AD and converted into a mosque during the Ottoman conquest. It was later converted into the Kariye Museum following World War II. However, a lawsuit filed in 2005 challenged this decision. The lawsuit was based on the law of immovables, which states that once a building becomes a mosque, it cannot become anything else. This argument was affirmed by Turkey’s Council of State in November 2019.

A unique aspect of the Chora Church is the vast amount of medieval mosaics and frescos covering most of the church’s walls and domes which feature Biblical scenes. According to the precedent set by Turkey, the Christian artwork of churches which have been converted into mosques are covered. How this will look for the Chora Church is unclear. During the Ottoman conquest, the artwork was hidden under a layer of plaster.

Like the Hagia Sophia, the Chora Church is registered as a UNESCO heritage site. It is unclear how UNESCO will respond to the conversion of these churches into mosques. On its website, UNESCO describes the Chora Church as one of Istanbul’s “masterpieces.”

According to the November decision made by Turkey’s State Council, a mosque “cannot be used except for its essential function.” Critics have pointed out that that this language implies that “Turkish authorities appear to think that the original function of the former churches/museums was to serve as mosques. They thus completely ignore the Christian roots of the Chora Church and countless other churches in the region, as well as the Christian history of Constantinople [Istanbul].”

Turkey is recommended for a special watch list by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the only member of NATO to appear on the list. Religious freedom in Turkey has significantly deteriorated since the 2016 coup attempt, with the ruling AK Party leaning even more heavily into Islamic nationalism. Turkey is currently facing a number of domestic crises impacting approval ratings. It is common for Turkey to pursue religious freedom violations in an attempt to distract and control the public narrative.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Unfortunately, today’s announcement was not surprising. We have been waiting for the implementation of the Council of State’s decision regarding the Chora Church for many months now. The mindset and logic used to justify the conversion of historic churches into mosques is alarming. In many ways, we are looking at the tip of an iceberg. These conversions are an expression of a larger disregard for religious freedom by the authorities. They are the consequence of Turkey’s attempt to erase Christianity from the country’s history. We must keep the Church in prayer, as these actions signal a disregard for freedom of conscience.”

Sources:Persecution

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One Christian Killed, Four Kidnapped in Nigeria

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Nigeria– A bus driver was killed and four female members of an Anglican Church abducted while driving along Kaduna-Kachia road on Tuesday, April 6th, reports the Barnabus Fund.

“Bandits blockaded the road and opened fire on the church bus and another truck. In addition to the Christian bus driver, named as Alfred Makinde, three others were killed in the gunfire,” stated the news source.

The kidnappers contacted the church demanding a N100 million (about $245,000) ransom.

“My conversation with the Anglican church is there were 15 members in the bus but the others ran into the bush and others were shot and sustained injuries, but the bandits took four persons; one old woman and three young ladies” said Reverend Joseph Hayab, the Kaduna Christian Association of Nigeria chairman.

The attack comes just twelve days after eight Christians were abducted while driving on the same Kaduna-Kachia road, about 20 miles outside of Kaduna city. Christians are particularly targeted in this area of Nigeria, often referred to as the middle belt, where the Muslim majority north meets Nigeria’s mostly Christian south, creating an environment of ethnic tension which often results in severe Christian persecution. Christian communities are targeted, and thousands of believers have been kidnapped, tortured and killed with nowhere to turn for safety. While the government denies religious motive behind these attacks, the frequent burning of churches and targeting of believers shows that a hatred of Christianity plays a key role in the violence throughout the Middle Belt.

Please pray for the safe return of all who have been kidnapped. Please join us in praying for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria, for the Lord to strengthen the Nigerian church and heal His persecuted children of their trauma. Please also pray for the world to recognize the scale of the suffering that believers are having to endure in Nigeria, as well as for the souls of those who persecute the church, that all will repent and find salvation in Christ.
Sources:persecution

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പാസ്റ്റർ ജോൺ വർഗീസിൻ്റെ (രാജൻ പ്ലാന്തോട്ടത്തിൽ) സഹധർമ്മിണി ഏലിക്കുട്ടി വർഗീസ് (ലില്ലി -71) അമേരിക്കയിൽ നിര്യാതയായി

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ഒക്കലഹോമ: ഐ.പി.സി. ഹെബ്രോൻ മുൻ ശുശ്രുഷകനും സിനിയർ പാസ്റ്ററുമായ Rev. Dr. ജോൺ വർഗീസിന്റ (രാജൻ. പ്ലാന്തോട്ടത്തിൽ, ആഞ്ഞിലിത്താനം ) ഭാര്യ എലിക്കുട്ടി വർഗീസ് (ലില്ലി – 71) ഏപ്രിൽ 10-ന് പ്രഭാതത്തിൽ താൻ പ്രിയം വെച്ച കർത്തൃ സന്നിധിയിൽ ചേർക്കപ്പെട്ടു. മെമ്മോറിയൽ സർവ്വീസ് ഏപ്രിൽ 16 നു വെള്ളിയാഴ്ച വൈകിട്ട് 6- മണിക്കും സംസ്കാര ശ്രുശ്രുഷ ഏപ്രിൽ 17- നു രാവിലെ 10 മണിക്കും നടത്തപ്പെടുന്നതായിരിക്കും . രണ്ടു ശുശ്രുഷകളും ഒക്കലഹോമ ഐ.പി.സി. ഹെബ്രോൻ സഭാ ഹാളിൽ വെച്ച് നടത്തപ്പെടുന്നതായിരിക്കും.

മകൾ : ഫെബി മാത്യു.
മരുമകൻ: ജോൺസൻ മാത്യു (ബോബി ).

കൊച്ചുമക്കൾ: ജോയാന, രൂത്ത് & ക്രിസ്റ്റഫർ

Viewing:- Wednesday 4 – 7.30pm (prayer meeting 6.30 pm – 7.30pm)

Memorial service:- Friday 6.30 pm. @IPCH

Home Going Service:- Saturday 10 am. @ IPCH

Follow CDC guidelines.
Come and go as you wish.

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