01/15/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Illegal treasure hunters recently defiled a 900-year-old church in Bursa, Turkey. The Turkish government placed Aya Yani church under preservation after the local population left the area decades ago due to persecution and genocide.
However, this church and other Christian faith sites, are often the targets of treasure seekers, hoping to find gold or items of worth in the historical buildings. Despite the named preservation for this church, it was allowed to decay and left abandoned for years.
Turkey’s history is riddled with examples of converting historical churches into mosques or restoring the buildings to become tourism sites. In this case, the church was left to crumble and be abused by those seeking earthly gain.
Another former church, Chora Church, was set to become a mosque in October 2020. The old church had been converted into a museum but Turkey’s President Erdogan issued an order to re-convert it into a mosque. Now, months later, the doors remain closed and no new opening date for the mosque set. It is presumed that Erdogan repealed his order following the international outcry. Chora Church as a museum also draws many religious tourists every year.
For more information, see ICC’s joint report: Turkey – Challenges Facing Christians 2016-2020.
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