Christians are buried in Muslim graves in Van


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There are three Protestant churches open to worship in Van. But churches have to hide themselves with security concerns. The lack of a Christian cemetery in the area is also a big problem.

In addition to being a city famous for its historical and cultural riches, Van is also home to different beliefs. However, the three Protestant churches and the small Christian population, who has to hide in the city, face social pressure and difficulties. The fact that the churches in Van have to hide themselves and the problem of not being able to find a cemetery for the Christians who lost their lives brings up the problems that people of different faiths experience in the natural flow of life in the city once again.

According to the news of Kadir Cesur from the newspaper Wall, three Protestant churches in Van; It is used for local Christians, tourists from Iran, and for international worship. However, the religious leaders of these churches, which are quite small with a total congregation of 250-300 people, state that they have to hide themselves due to social pressure. When viewed from the outside of the churches, it is not clear that they are churches; There is neither a cross, nor a bell, nor a sign bearing the name of the church. Even the Van Liberation Church is currently tucked into an apartment.

In Van, which had a dense Armenian population in the past, there is no usable Christian cemetery today. The Armenian cemeteries that existed in the past were either destroyed or new buildings were built on them. One of the latest examples of this was experienced in lpekyolu, one of the central districts of Van. Last April, human bones were found during the excavation work for the foundation of the new building of Hüsrevpaşa Primary and Secondary School.
In the examination, it was determined that this area was an Armenian cemetery. But the construction of the school building was continued.

The absence of a Christian cemetery in the city makes it obligatory to be buried in a Muslim cemetery when a Christian dies. Moreover, in these burials, the duties of the Christian religion cannot be fulfilled and the cross cannot be left on the head of the graves for fear of being destroyed.

Can’t we live together as brothers?’

Vahit Yıldız, Pastor of Van Kurtuluş Church, stated that he has concerns for security in churches and said: “We know that a large part of Van society respects us. But there are also those who hate it. The biggest reason for this is their own prejudices, misinformation and political reasons. The cross is our sanctuary. We do not leave a cross here so that people can see it and come to the church. We try to be wise. It wouldn’t be bad if there was a cross or a bell could be heard in this city. Can’t we live together as brothers? Of course we live. We have many friends, friends and Muslim brothers and sisters. But there are also malicious groups. Our church in Cumhuriyet District was stoned several times before. Its windows were broken. We do not want the well-being of the society to be hijacked. We want people to be comfortable. That’s why we want people to be comfortable, so that there are no expressions that will look bad.”

New Year’s celebrations have nothing to do with us, this is ignorance.

Emphasizing that people are also under the influence of hate speeches against Christianity in the media, Yıldız said that misinformation, especially in the New Year celebrations, put their own safety at risk. Stating that the poster works of an association in the city before the New Year celebrations contain anti-propaganda, Yıldız said, “No one forces anyone to celebrate New Year’s Eve! New Year’s Day is already a universal day. If a country uses a Gregorian calendar, people celebrate the new year. But New Year’s celebrations have nothing to do with us! This is ignorance. We celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. we celebrate. Because Christmas is the birthday of Jesus Christ. Christmas already means ‘nativity’. I went and talked to the association that prepared these posters. They thought we were celebrating New Year’s, getting drunk and having fun. However, I am not doing this, you are doing it. This has nothing to do with my belief. The whole world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ as New Year’s Eve. I am proud of it,” he said.

If I don’t love my neighbor as myself, I can’t be a believer!’

Stating that the Kurtuluş Church, which is stuck in an apartment, needs a detached space, Pastor Vahit Yıldız said that if they have a detached building, they would have to build a wall around it again, and said: “An evil person can attack with their eyes even if they don’t throw stones. I never denigrate everyone in this society, but unfortunately there are such people among them. This is an ulterior motive based on inaccurate information. We love everyone. I have to love everybody. This is the command of Jesus Christ. The greatest commandment of my scripture is to love. For me, God is love. How can I look badly on my own neighbor now? One of the greatest commandments is “Love your neighbor as yourself”. If I don’t love my neighbor as myself, I can’t be a believer anyway.”

There is no cemetery where we can bury our dead.

On the other hand, the absence of a Christian cemetery in Van poses a separate problem for Christians. A Christian who lost his or her life has to be buried in a Muslim cemetery. Stating that they talked to the city’s administrators many times before, but they could not find a solution, Yıldız said, “There is no cemetery in the city where Christians can be buried. Asking me to take the dead and bury him or her in the Muslim cemetery shows that I am not valued and that Muslims are disrespected. As a Christian, I will not be comfortable when I go to a Muslim cemetery, and the Muslims there cannot be comfortable either. Because I have rituals too. Even our burial patterns are different. “I don’t need to take the dead there and bury it according to Muslim methods,” he said.

Even when we go to Akhtamar church, we pay 300 TL for footsteps.

There are churches and monasteries on Çarpanak, Adır and Akhtamar Islands located in Lake Van. The most internationally known among them is Akhtamar Island and the Armenian Holy Cross Church and monastery on the island. There is only one day of worship per year in the church. Pastor Vahit Yıldız thinks that Akhtamar Church should be made active especially for Armenians. Yıldız also spoke about the subject as follows: “The Akhtamar Church is an Armenian church. Naturally, just as an Assyrian Church is ruled by Assyrians and people go and worship there, so should the Akhtamar Church. However, Akhtamar Church is currently considered a museum. Even when we go, we pay 300 TL for footsteps. The church is being converted into a business. Let people get to know cultures, get to know each other. Would it be bad if Armenians managed the Akhtamar Church and they also did the landscaping there? Look how well they look at the Assyrian Churches in the Southeast. They are doing their restoration, they are doing their worship, our people go and visit.”

Serhat News

Translator :Akif Coşkun

Tepki Ver | sinirli1
Christians are buried in Muslim graves in Van

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