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Patriarch election saga drags on for Turkey's Armenians

Turkey’s Armenian community has remained without an active patriarch for years as Ankara uses a legal vacuum to interfere in its religious affairs.
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When Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan, the spiritual leader of Turkey’s Armenians, fell ill in 2008, few would have thought that the debate on how to elect a new patriarch would drag on for years. Yet, ever since then, heated debates and divisions have haunted the Armenian community.

The debate had initially focused on whether the circumstances allowed for the election of a new patriarch at all. According to customs, a new patriarch is elected only when the incumbent one dies or steps down. Mesrob II was seriously ill and unable to perform his duties, but he was still alive.

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