Istanbul’s Largest Catholic Church Safe from Resale

03/06/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) –  A Catholic church in Istanbul is no longer in danger of being monetized and sold after Turkish authorities arrested Sebahattin Gök who was attempting to claim ownership of the historic church.

The Catholic Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua is the largest Catholic church in Istanbul. Gök and a large network of accomplices were executing real estate scams and forgery, specifically among religious and ethnic minority groups. Over the past few years, the group accumulated signatures and fake documents and worked themselves into a position to be able to claim the church as their own property.

Last year the church appealed for additional safeguards to preserve the place of worship. During this investigation, the scam was revealed, along with 34 other instances of attempts to obtain the religious sites of Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and other minority communities.

The preservation of this church and the protection it has gained is a win for the minority Christian community in Turkey. There have been many instances recently of looting, church conversions to museums or mosques, and damage to historic churches.

For interviews, please contact Alison Garcia: press@persecution.org. 

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