04/14/2021 Cyprus (International Christian Concern) – The U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus recently condemned a techno party that took place last month at Armenian Sourp Magar Monastery, the only Armenian monastery in Cyprus. The event was organized by an event planning group and was attended by many young Turks living in Turkish-occupied north Cyprus.
In response, U.S. Ambassador Judith Garber denounced the party in a tweet shortly after it was made public. “The U.S. Embassy strongly condemns the misuse of Saint Magar Armenian Monastery,” tweeted Garber. “Freedom of worship is a fundamental value, and we echo the call from religious leaders that all places of worship, in use or not, be protected against misuse, vandalism, and desecration.”
This ill-treatment of Christian heritage sites is unfortunately not unique to this monastery. As outlined in International Christian Concern’s report last year on challenges facing Turkey’s Christians, Turkey has continually hindered the property rights of the country’s churches by seizing or closing the places of worship. The most devastating blow to Turkey’s Christian heritage sites came last year when the government converted the historic Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
American condemnation of Turkey’s human rights record also comes amidst some tensions in the U.S.-Turkey relationship, with the publishing of the State Department’s human rights report last month. Many organizations hope that the United States will continue to put pressure on Turkey in this regard to ensure that religious freedom is protected for Turkey’s Christians.
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