Leading Hellenic Heritage Association Condemns Turkey's Destruction of Historic Orthodox Monastery

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ike Gulas, international president of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the leading association for the nation’s 1.3 million American citizens of Greek ancestry, and Philhellenes, issued the following statement about Turkey’s damage to an historic Christian Orthodox Monastery on 13 November:

"As an organization that historically supports the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its mission, we are appalled to learn of recent destruction to an historic Orthodox monastery on the island of Halki, Turkey. We view these actions as a blatant disregard for freedom to express one’s religion, a freedom that we cherish in the United States.

“If Turkey is to be successful in its pursuit to join the European Union, it must adhere to the principles of religious freedom and equality for all. The actions taken by the Ministry of Forestry in Turkey is a clear indication that all Religions aren’t granted the same security. Now is the time for Turkey to respect the rights of all religious minorities in its country.”

Annually, the international president of AHEPA leads a large delegation of Americans of Hellenic descent to Turkey to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate and offer the Patriarch support. The next trip is scheduled for later this month.

AHEPA is the largest Greek-American association in the world with chapters in the United States, Canada, Greece, Cyprus, and sister chapters in Australia and New Zealand. It was established in 1922 by visionary Greek Americans to protect Hellenes from prejudice originating from the KKK, and in its history, AHEPA joined with the NAACP and B'nai B'rith International to fight discrimination.

The mission of the AHEPA family is to promote the ideals of Hellenism, education, philanthropy, civic responsibility and family and individual excellence.

The AHEPA family consists of four organizations: AHEPA, Daughters of Penelope, Sons of Pericles and Maids of Athena.

For more information about the AHEPA family, or how to join, please contact AHEPA Headquarters, 202.232.6300, or visit http://www.ahepa.org.

(Posting date 30 November 2007)

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