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02/08/2022 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – The historic Greek Orthodox monastery of Panagia Soumela, located in Trabzon, Turkey, was the site of a recent advertising video shoot that turned the courtyard into a nightclub. In the video clip, a DJ played loud electronic music in the courtyard as people danced.

According to the producers of the video, the staging was intended to promote the monastery as a tourist attraction and was done so with permission from Turkish authorities. Yet it brought outrage from the Orthodox community as many claimed it desecrated the place of worship. Panagia Soumela monastery operates now as a tourist attraction, as a stunning structure built into a steep cliffside.

Sumela Monastery was established in approximately 386 AD and forcibly abandoned during Turkey’s genocide targeting Greek, Armenian, and Assyrian Christians. Following its abandonment, the monastery was vandalized, used by tobacco smugglers, and later ruined by a fire. After a long period of reconstruction, the monastery was reopened for tourism. Not long after the reopening, the historic site was vandalized. The use of the Sumela Monastery as a tourist attraction points to Turkey’s indifference to religious freedom in the country, manipulating historic Christian sites and culture for non-religious gain.

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