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Head of Armenian church in Turkey asks govt. to pay staff wages

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#1 Yervant1


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Posted 03 February 2014 - 11:44 AM

Head of Armenian church in Turkey asks govt. to pay staff wages

February 1, 2014 - 17:50 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net - A priest from a local Armenian church in Istanbul's
Sariyer district has asked the Turkish government's Department of
Religious Affairs to cover the wages of the church's staff.

Admitting that he is no longer able to pay the salaries, Boyacikoy
Church head Nazaret Ozsahakyan requested the state's religious affair
department (Diyanet) to take over the responsibility. The Diyanet,
however replied that they were already paying the electricity bill of
the church and had no authority to pay the priests' wages.

Upon receiving this reply, Nazaret Ozsahakyan complained to Turkey's
first ombudsman Mehmet Nihat Omeroglu, appealing for the wages of all
church and synagogue staff to be paid for by the state.

The parliament's former Human Rights Council leader Mehmet Elkatmis
later met with Armenian, Greek Orthodox and Syriac church
representatives to discuss the issue.

Elkatmis said that Turkey does not pay of the wages of the employees
of an individual church, and that should the government decide to
accept the responsibility, it would cover the wages of all employees
of all churches.

Should such a decision be made, it will be likely to include Turkey's
Jewish and Alevi communities as well.

Ozsahakyan reportedly said that having lived on Turkey's soil for
thousands of years, this was the first time his congregation was
seeking this assistance, adding that just like everyone else in the
country they have been paying their taxes and should therefore be
entitled to the same rights.

"Imams and priests should be treated equally," he said, adding that he
was willing to take the case as far as the constitutional court.

The spiritual leader of the Syriac Orthodox church Yusuf Cetin said
that his congregation had 40 employees who had all done their military
service, were paying their taxes and wanted to be given the same
rights and wages as imams.

"We love this country and we have no other land," the Syriac patriarch added.

Armenian Church patriarch Aram Atesyan said that after meeting with
Mehmet Elkamis, the representatives had been asked to prepare a report
including all the technical details of their demands.



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