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Turkish Nationalists Protest Interference Of Orthodox Patriarchate

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    2004.09.05 AFP: Turkish Nationalists Protest Interference Of Orthodox Patriarchate AFP: 9/5/2004 ISTANBUL, Sept 5 (AFP) - Around 1,000 ultra-nationalist Turks
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 5 7:23 PM
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      2004.09.05 AFP:
      Turkish Nationalists Protest Interference Of Orthodox Patriarchate
      AFP: 9/5/2004

      ISTANBUL, Sept 5 (AFP) - Around 1,000 ultra-nationalist Turks protested
      outside the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Church here Sunday, Turkish
      media reported, accusing it of interfering in Turkey's political affairs.

      The protesters, called out by the youth movement of the Party for
      Nationalist Action (MHP), hurled stones at riot police before being subdued
      by tear gas and truncheons.

      Pictures showed the protesters burning an effigy of Ecumenical Patriarch
      Bartholomew I, head of the northern Greek Orthodox church, and hanging him
      from a tree.

      The Istanbul patriarchate, the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Church
      is the last vestige of the medieval Byzantine empire which modern Greeks
      still revere.

      The patriarchate has been pressuring Ankara for years to reopen a
      century-old seminary on the island of Heybeliada (Halki in Greek) off
      Istanbul, which was closed in 1971 during Greek-Turk tensions over Cyprus.

      The European Union, critical of Turkey for failing to ensure the
      religious freedoms of non-Muslim minorities, is closely watching how Ankara
      is handling the requests for the reopening of the school.

      The United States also supports the school's reopening.

      A spokesman for the protesters said that Turkey had given in to the
      European Union and the United States over the patriarchate.

      The Turkish government, keen to increase its prospects for joining the
      EU, has made it clear in the last year that it is considering reopening the
      religious school.

      Northern Greece's churches are run from Istanbul because the region was
      part of the Ottoman Empire before it fell to Greece in 1912.

      Copyright 2004 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.
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