Mr Necip Egüz
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of
the Republic of Turkey
Greetings from the board of the Christian Council of Sweden. The Christian Council of Sweden is a body of 27 Christian churches and denominations, representing all the Christian traditions. The board includes the leadership of the so called Free Churches, the Roman Catholic Church in Sweden, the Church of Sweden and the other Lutheran Churches, the Byzanthine and Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Eastern Assyrian Churches.
We write to you to express our serious concern regarding the ongoing developments in commection with the Mor Gabriel Monastery in Midyat, Turkey. This monastery is one of the oldest Christian monasteries, founded in 397 AD, and therefore an important holy place not only for the Syciac Christian community, but for all Christians. What happens to the Mor Gabriel is a matter for the entire world wide Christian community.
Many of the swedish members of the Syrian orthodox Church have their historical roots in the area, and the Monastery plays a vital role in the life of their church.
Thus it is important for all the churches in Sweden, gathered in the Christian Council of Sweden, to express our solidarity with the appeal from His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas to the government of the Republic of Turkey (attached) to safeguard the legal rights of the Monastery and the Christian community in the area. Religious freedom is fundamental to democracy as stated in the UN constitution. This religious freedom must also include exercising faith in community with others and the right to exercise ownership of property for the support of the life of the community.
We are confident that Your Excellency, as representative of the government of the Republic of Turkey, seriously will consider this plea to safeguard justice for the Christian minorities in Your great country and forward our appeal to the relevant authorities.
Stockholm in December 2008 The Christian Council of Sweden Ex officio
Rev Sven-Bernhard Fast General Secretary
Sveriges Kristna Råd