BREAKING: Turkey CONFISCATES Properties From Christians


The Turkish government recently seized about fifty properties from the Syriac Orthodox Church with claims that the ownership deeds had lapsed. Among the properties were monasteries, cemeteries, and churches belonging to one of oldest Christian indigenous communities in Turkey.

There are now very real fears that this most recent action by the Turkish government is the beginning of the end for them as a people leading to the extinction of them as a people both physically and culturally. Many testify that Turkish Christians have never gone through this difficult of a legal period before and that it is likely to get worse.


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Chairman of the Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation, Kuryakos Ergun states –


“We went to sleep one night, and we woke up the next morning to see what was ours the night before no longer belonged to us. Our churches and monasteries are what root Syriacs in these lands; our existence relies on them. They are our history and what sustains our culture. While the country should be protecting this heritage, we instead see our culture is at risk.”

Christian church and community leaders in the southeastern region known as Tur Abdin, which translates to “The Mountain of the Servants of God,” speak of the properties seized, stating that two of them were still functioning monasteries built some 1,500 years ago.  The loss is considered a crushing blow to their culture’s survival.  One of the oldest still working monasteries in the world known as Mor Gabriel was among the properties seized by the Turkish government.  The monastery was started in the fifth century.  They attempted to appeal the confiscation by their appeal was rejected by the Turkish governmental commission tasked with liquidating the seized Christian assets.

In the meantime, graveyards have been redistributed, as well as several churches and monasteries that were handed over to the state Treasury have been given to the Department of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), a powerful state institution that oversees Muslim houses of worship.


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Families seeking to reclaim gardens, farms or homes occupied by Muslim neighbors or arbitrarily redistributed during an overhaul of the national land registry in recent decades face yearslong court battles that can deplete their savings and incur the ire of the wider community. It is estimated that the amount of property seized from Turkish Christians measures in the millions of square miles.

Turkish officials at the Washington embassy and the New York Consulate have refused to comment on the confiscation of Christians’ property and history.

Ergun states that they have also already filed with the court appeals for roughly 20 of the title deeds and have plans to do so for the remaining 30.  However, the hopes that they will be able to stop the government seizure is very small.

“We have also filed appeals to the commission numerous times and taken witnesses. However, they told us that legally it was not possible to give it to us and that its transfer procedures to the Treasury had been completed.”

Others state this is part of a very well planned strategy of attack by the Turkish government. Robert Nicholson, executive director of the Philos Project, an advocacy group focusing on Christian minorities in the Middle East states very plainly –

“In the case of the Syriac Christians, Erdogan is using legal pretexts to seize and redistribute lands and churches that have been owned by Christians for over a millennium.

Christians haven’t always faced pressure from the Turkish government or even from Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party. But Turkish politics are changing, and it’s still unclear how minority groups like the Syriacs will fare in the end.”

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