The construction of a new Syriac Orthodox Church in the metropolis of Istanbul will add “new richness” to the city, Turkey’s president said on Saturday.
At the groundbreaking ceremony of the Syriac Orthodox St. Ephrem (Mor Efrem) Church, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said construction of the new church would take two years.
“Like all their other issues, meeting the worship needs of the Assyrian community, the ancient children of our geography, is the duty of the state of the Republic of Turkey,” Erdogan said.
“We are a nation which has been ruling over this region for almost a millennium, and Istanbul for 566 years. Throughout this long history, our region has always been the heart of religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity, and most importantly of the conscience of humanity,” he added.
“Although suffering in our region over the last 150 years has caused many troubles and much destruction, we have never wavered even an iota in our will to coexist. To us, anyone who has affection and loyalty for Turkey and contributes to [the country] is a first-class citizen,” Erdogan stressed.
He added that Turkey currently hosts nearly 4 million Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmens as well as Muslims, Assyrians, Ezidis and other groups from Syria and Iraq.
From Spain to North Africa, Turkey’s gates and hearts have been open to all the oppressed, said Erdogan, stressing: “There never was and never will be room for discrimination in our hearts and minds.
“The real target of terror groups and their allies is our common homeland, and the best way to disappoint them is to see our differences as our most important richness,” Erdogan said.
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