Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan laid the foundation stone on Saturday for the nation’s first new church building in nearly 100 years, saying it reflects the country’s religious diversity.
The building in Istanbul will house the Syrian Orthodox Christian community, which currently does not have its own building and is sharing space in a Catholic church. Syrian Orthodox Christians are paying for the new building, according to Agence France-Presse.
It is being called the first new church building in Turkey since the nation’s founding in 1923. Islam is the country’s majority religion.
“Our geographic location has been the center of religious, ethnic, cultural and racial diversity,” Erdogan said during a ceremony. “Our hearts and doors have always been open to the oppressed who come here from anywhere – from Spain, to the Caucasians from Eastern Europe, to Northern Africa.
“… While the terror groups in Iraq and Syria inflict all kinds of cruelty on these people, we have opened our hearts to them without discrimination.”
Mihael Tore, a Syrian Orthodox priest, told TRT World it was “a very happy day” for his community.
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Source: Christian Headlines