Halki’s Chapel of the Transfiguration almost destroyed by forest guards

Istanbul, Turkey, Nov.17,2007 (CINS/AsiaNews) – A XVII century chapel dedicated to Our Lord’s Transfiguration, which lies in front of the Haliki School of Theology, was almost completely destroyed yesterday by Forest Guards.  The Church had been recently restored with the permission of local authorities.  Demolishers had begun tearing down the building without any prior warning, which is called for in such cases.

Only at the last minute was the total destruction of the chapel avoided: following protests by the prior of  Haliki School and Metropolitan Meliton, director of the Ecumenical Patriarchates office for legal affairs, the prefect of the Prince Islands stopped the Forest Guards. The building however was seriously damaged.

The Prior of Halki immediately brought to the attention of the Turkish authorities that these kinds of episodes will provoke international disapproval, including that of the European Union.  The Authorities response was stark: “Don’t dare to threaten us!”.

Shortly afterwards an “unknown” group smashed the windows of  Holy Trinity Church in Kadikoy, ancient Calcedonia.

Diplomatic and journalistic circles mummer that cases such as these are on the increase and are not casual either: they are part of a strategy adopted by powers in Turkey who are against the nations process of integration in the European Union and are testing the Governments will to protect religious minorities.(NT)

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