Erdoğan announces reopening of Orthodox monastery for worship in northern Turkey
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday announced the country’s historic Greek Orthodox Sümela Monastery in the northern Trabzon province would be re-opened for Christian worship next month, Tele1 news site reported.
Erdoğan made the announcement during the reopening ceremony of the 4th-century site, which follows a three-year-long restoration project.
“On Aug. 15, our Orthodox citizens will be able to perform the [Litany of the Blessed] Virgin Mary religious service, which was suspended during the restoration period at the Sümela Monastery," the Turkish president said in a speech he delivered via video link.
In his speech on Monday, Erdoğan hit back at critics of his move last week to reconvert the iconic Hagia Sophia of Istanbul into a mosque.
“If we were a nation targeting the symbols of other beliefs, the Sümela Monastery which we have had for the last five centuries, would be gone forever,” the Turkish president said.
The Sümela Monastery reopened for religious use under Erdoğan's rule in Aug. 2010, following an almost nine-decade hiatus.