4th Century Church Listed for Sale

4th Century Church Listed for Sale

The 4th century Mor Yuhanna Syriac Church in Turkey’s city of Mardin has been listed for sale with a price of just over 7 million TL ($859,980 USD). The church is registered as a cultural asset by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, but owned by an individual whose father bought and used the building as a warehouse. The real estate agent says that this is private property, and whoever buys it can use it was they wish.

The Syriac community has largely expressed their sadness at this decision, stating that the church should remain a church and it should be transferred to the Mardin Deyrulzafaran Foundation. They stated that they would buy the church if they had the funds, and so has instead asked relevant institutions to intervene in preventing the sale.

Following the 20th century genocide, the Christian community (including Syriacs) were nearly decimated throughout Turkey. This was soon followed by the loss of legal identity which effectively prevent Christians from managing their own institutions, including their own church buildings.

As a result, churches are forced to register as foundations are associations, although that this not their function. Many assets were taken from Christians in the decades following. Unfortunately, situations like this one in Mardin are the standard consequence of so many years of persecution of Christians in Turkey.