ASIA/TURKEY - A mosque in Taksim Square?

Friday, 7 June 2013

Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) - The Turkish Premier Tayyip Erdogan, who returned yesterday to his country after his visit in some Countries of the Maghreb, called for the "immediate end" of the demonstrations which have triggered in many Turkish cities starting from the protests in defense of the trees in the Gezi park in Istanbul. The Prime Minister himself according to Turkish sources reported that the new project for the re-organization of central Istanbul also includes the construction of a large mosque in front of the Greek Orthodox church of the Holy Trinity at the beginning of Istiklal Street, a major shopping street. The project of building the Islamic temple next to a church - that the prime minister has also valued as a symbol of inter-religious dialogue - would result in the demolition of several commercial buildings located on land belonging to the Greek Hospital Foundation of Balikh.
On Istiklal Caddesi, a few hundred meters from Taksim Square, is the Catholic church of St. Anthony of Padua, officiated by the Conventual Franciscans. In recent days, the area around the church was the scene of clashes between demonstrators and security forces. "But now," refers to Fides Agency father Adrian Baciu OFMConv "the situation seems calm.
The surrounding area to Taksim square is closed and the protest took on the appearance of a peaceful youth festival. " Many school and university students in Istanbul at the end of their lessons gather in the area. In the church, also frequented by Turkish communities of the Neocatechumenal Way, catechetical and liturgical activities continue regularly. "These days there are also several young protesters," explains Father Adrian, "but they simply enter as visitors, in silence, without flags. Hopefully everything will be resolved peacefully, with no other clashes." (GV) (Agenzia Fides 07/06/2013).