Islamists, nationalists target planned liturgy at Sumela Monastery

Islamists and nationalists have called on the government to cancel a Christian religious ceremony planned to take place at Trabzon's Sumela Monastery on Aug. 15.

Duvar English

A Christian religious ceremony to be held at the historic Sumela Monastery in the Black Sea province of Trabzon on Aug. 15, is at the target of nationalists and Islamists.

İYİ (Good) Party spokesperson Kürşad Zorlu and New Welfare Party (YRP) lawmaker Doğan Bekin called on the authorities to cancel the liturgy which is known as the “Assumption of Mary,” which Christians believe marks the occasion of the Virgin Mary’s bodily ascent to heaven at the end of her life.

After an 88-year-long hiatus, the liturgy was allowed to take place for the first time in 2010. This year on Aug. 15, it will take place at the Sumela Monastery for the 10th time, according to reporting by online news outlet Diken. 

Retired admiral Cihat Yaycı penned a letter to all political parties, claiming that the liturgy is against the Treaty of Lausanne, while İYİ Party’s Zorlu and YRP’s Bekin called for the liturgy’s cancellation, saying it coincides with the accepted date of Trabzon’s conquest by Turks.

“August 15, 1461 is the date of Trabzon’s conquest by Sultan Mehmed the Conquerer. Fractions against Turkey see this (day) as if it is a day of mourning…There are strong indicators that this (the liturgy planned at the Sumela Monastery) should not be seen as a simple worship activity,” Zorlu tweeted.

The Orthodox community has been observing the “Assumption of Mary” on Aug. 15 for the last 1,500 years, whereas the Ottoman conquest of Trabzon started to be marked on Aug. 15 only last year. Before that, Trabzon locals used to officially celebrate the anniversary of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II’s conquest of the city on Oct. 26 each year.