Under Siege: Halki and the Ecumenical Patriarchate

A Book Review

by Dr. Anthony G. Ziagos, Sr.,
Middlesex Media

Istanbul Turkey The crossroads of the world, where East meets West over the first two millennium of our existence and historically identified as Constantinople is under siege. The Holy Theological School at Halki and the current political situation affecting it is discussed in great detail in Chris Papoutsy's book; The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Orthodox Christianity Under Siege. The school, used as a pawn by the Turkish Government, has come to represent the underlying issues.

This complex International crisis involves several countries, religious freedom, and the issue of basic human rights. The book provides detail documentation and research regarding the mechanics of how the School was founded, operated, and subsequently closed by the Turkish Government.

This multi-faceted deep seated issue partially stems from the lack of recognition and respect for the sovereignty of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the world leader of millions of Orthodox Christians.
In 1971 the Turkish Government went through a tumultuous political revolt. As a result of the Military takeover, the seeds of discontent became explosive. In order to demonstrate its newly established power and ultimately the fear of losing control, the new government used the closing of Halki to implement harsh and strict new laws restricting activities of anyone and anything not conforming to the majority. Turkey is a Muslim State. The current Muslim nationalist policies are still enforced at the expense of all minorities in Turkey. The problem is so deeply rooted that it even effects native minority Kurds as well as Orthodox Christians and the Greek minority. All these minorities have been restricted and suppressed. Closing of Halki and restriction of activities of the Ecumenical Patriarch and other Orthodox religious institutions has been a favorite tool of government for many years.

Read more about Under Siege and find out where to buy it. Click here.

In other countries around the world, we have repeatedly seen the political environment at odds with minority's in a dozen other countries. Unwarranted government intervention restricting religious and human rights of the minorities is the basis of ongoing conflict in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Cypress, and Albania. The break up of the Soviet Union over the last two decades, and the ongoing Civil Wars of a dozen African countries are just a few examples of the conflict between majority and minority parties and the refusal of granting rightful recognition. Several world leaders as well as the European Union have expressed concerned regarding the policy of Turkish government in the issue of religious and human rights.

Chris Papoutsy in his research exposes on going bias within the Turkish Government. Located in the Monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai desert in Egypt is a document signed by the Prophet Mohammad with the print of his hand. This document admonishes all Muslims not to harm or interfere with the religious freedom of Christians under Muslim authority. You would think that a mandate from the Prophet Mohammad would motivate Turkey and it's leaders to reevaluate their position. Chris provides a copy of this very important document for us to see in his book along with a translation.

A positive recent developments has transpired in Turkey. The Orphanage building located on Buyukada an Island adjacent to Halki was recently deeded back to the Patriarchate. This gesture should pave the way for future positive developments with regard to Halki Theological School and respect for the Office of the Patriarchate.

(Posting date 11 February 2011. Reproduced with permission MiddlesexMedia.)

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Dr. Anthony G. Ziagos, Sr. is a photo journalist and publisher from Massachusetts. He is a Doctor of Naturopathy and is involved in International Diplomatic community. His work has been featured in dozens of publications around the world. He is a regular contributor to several publications and he can be reached at www.MiddlesexMedia.com

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