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Must Read: Turkey Builds 9,000 Mosques, Bans Orthodox Christian Liturgy

A total of 8,985 mosques were built between 2005 and 2015 by the Turkish government over the last decade in Turkey, according to statistics released by Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet).

The Central Anatolian province of Konya contained the highest number of mosques, Dogan News Agency reported on Sept. 16. Ankara, the southern province of Antalya, the Black Sea provinces of Ordu and Trabzon, and the southeastern province of Diyarbakır were among the other provinces with over 2,000 mosques.

While the Turkish government has built so many mosques across the country with state funds, it has banned Orthodox Christian liturgy in the Sumela Monastery, a historic site in Trabzon.

Sumela Monastery, located in the district of Macka — or Matsuka in Greek — in Trabzon province is one of the oldest monasteries in the Christian world. According to records, it was built by two Athenian monks, St. Barnabas and his nephew St. Sophronios, and was inaugurated by the bishop of Trabzon in 386 A.D.

The province of Trabzon, located in the ancient region of Pontos, the northeast portion of Anatolia adjacent to the Black Sea, also has a long Greek and Christian history. The word “Pontos” means “sea” in Greek.

“Trabzon was settled by Greeks probably by the 7th century BC,” writes researcher Sam Topalidis for the website Pontos World. “Trabzon was the ancient capital of the Greek speaking Komnenos Byzantine Kingdom (1204–1461). It survived until 1461, eight years after the fall of Byzantine Constantinople when both localities fell to the Ottoman Turks.”

After the city’s invasion by the Ottoman Turks, the local demographic began to change; but for centuries, Christians were the majority in the city.

According to Topalidis, Trabzon’s Muslim population increased dramatically under the Ottoman rule due to:

Muslims moving into the city (Most of the Trabzon’s Muslims were involuntary immigrants)
Deportations of Christians out of the city, probably to Istanbul
Christians converting to Islam, probably for fear of deportation

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