World Bulletin/News Desk
The Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey has apologized for a misunderstanding, which was reported by several media outlets, that made it appear as though Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) was preventing the building of a church.
The spokesman of the association, Soner Tufan, told Turkish press that the association mistook some numbers given by Ankara's Çankaya Municipality, which resulted in confusion that the piece of land the organization was seeking to obtain to build a church was made available for the construction of a mosque following the association's request. The association later informed a media outlet about the situation. After learning the truth, the association withdrew the statements but several newspapers did not see the update.
“We were hurt and upset. When we couldn't get a positive response from the authorities about the issue, we told the media about it. Yes, we have the greatest fault but the Çankaya Municipality, the governor's office and other authorities that failed to fix the misunderstanding also have a share in this,” Tufan said.
Istanbul-based dailies, Agos and Cumhuriyet, reported on Monday that the Ankara Governor's Office rejected the request of the Protestant association to get the piece of land to build their church but later affirmed a request by the Diyanet to build a mosque on the same spot.
Tufan reported that the association apologized to all Muslims who were offended by the remarks made by the association. The association has 40 members, which makes up 80 percent of the Protestants living in Turkey.
Meanwhile Diyanet head Mehmet Görmez was upset by the news. Görmez told Turkish press that the reports suggesting that the Diyanet prevented the building of the church are not true. He said the Diyanet would be more eager than any other organization to see Christians have their own place of worship. Görmez added that the Diyanet would help Christians have a place for worship rather than preventing them from having one.
He added that unlike suggested in the reports, Diyanet does not take initiative to build a mosque but it functions as an intermediary between the civil society organizations and the state authorities when it comes to the construction of a new mosque.
The Çankaya Municipality rezoned the disputed piece of land in 2005 as a space where a place of worship could be erected. A mosque association applied to the municipality to build a mosque on this land and the municipality responded positively the next year. It took eight years for the municipality to remove the illegal buildings on the land.Last Mod: 07 Mayıs 2013, 10:08