August 25, 2009

Turkish Officials Insult Orthodox Pilgrims at Panagia Soumela in Trebizond

Over 3,000 pilgrims from Greece and Russia visited the ancient Monastery of Panagia Soumela in Trebizond, Turkey on the occasion of the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. For years Greek natives of Trebizond that were exiled in the 20th century have requested an annual Divine Liturgy at the most sacred shrine of their homeland, now turned into a museum by the Turks. An outdoor prayer service was attempted but was soon interrupted by the Director of the Trebizond Museum, Nilgun Yilmazer, who tried to stop the prayer saying, "Soumela is not a place open to prayer." Disrespectfully she grabbed the candle lit before the sacred icon of Panagia Soumela and in Turkish cited Turkish law against such a service to be held saying, "“According to Turkish law, you are not allowed to perform a religious ceremony here”. In retaliation the Greeks chanted the Dismissal Hymn of the Feast of the Dormition as well as the hymn "Ti Ypermacho" (To You the Champion Leader), and then maybe went a bit too far in singing the Greek National Anthem. Yet it is a shame that both Greece and Russia allow Muslims to build their Mosques there while Orthodox cannot even say prayers at their ancient holy shrines in Turkey. It's an insult. The incident was captured on video and is shown above and in the news reports below.

More can be read at these links:

- Trabzon Official Takes Wind Out of Tourists' Rites
- Between Heaven and Earth: The Monastery of Panagia Soumela
- And four Greek news reports are here, here, here and here.

Below are various Greek TV news reports about the incident at Panagia Soumela:

And here is a Turkish news report: