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Turkey’s oldest indigenous culture fears extinction

Syriac Christians fear land dispute in Turkey threatens ancient culture’s survival.
Syriac Christian monks attend a service at the ancient monastery of Mor Gabriel, 15 km (9 miles) away from the town of Midyat, in Mardin province of southeast Turkey January 13, 2009. Tucked amid rugged hills where mosques and minarets are silhouetted in the distance, the fifth century Mor Gabriel monastery stands out as a relic of another era when hundreds of thousands of Syriac Christians lived and worshipped in Turkey. But a land dispute between Mor Gabriel and neighbouring villages is threatening the mo

A legal battle over the ownership of dozens of churches, monasteries and other property in southeastern Turkey has embroiled one of the world’s oldest Christian communities.

Turkish authorities have seized approximately 50 properties, totaling hundreds of thousands of square meters, from the Syriac Orthodox Church on grounds their ownership deeds had lapsed, church and community leaders said.

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