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(Compass) – Zoning status recognizing the Diyarbakir Evangelical Church as an official place of worship has been rejected by a local committee of the Turkish Ministry of Culture. Pastor Ahmet Guvener was informed last month that Turkish law requires places of worship be situated on at least 2,500 square meters of property. The Protestant church property covers only 116 square meters. With 175 mosques open for worship within the Diyarbakir city limits, only the Ulu Camii (Grand Mosque) meets this 2,500 square-meters requirement. Ironically, word of the zoning rejection came just three days after the May 12 landmark decision in which Guvener was acquitted on criminal charges of trying to open an “illegal” church. The Turkish state prosecutor himself called for Guvener’s acquittal, stressing that Turkey ’s agreements with the European Union guaranteed all Turkish citizens the right to conduct public and private worship. In a June 11 appeal to the Ministry of Justice, Guvener wrote that, “any obstacles to the free expression of a citizen’s beliefs and the opening of places of worship for the exercise of their beliefs must be lifted.”