ANTI-ARMENIA GROUP PLANS PROTEST AT AKHTAMAR CHURCH
Akhtamar, Armenian Church, Turkey
ASÄ°MDER, an anti-Armenian Diaspora association that “battles unfounded
Armenian claims,” has announced that it will be placing flowers in
front of the Akhtamar Church, in commemoration of Turks killed in 1918,
the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The move is intended to counter a baptism ritual planned by Armenians
in the same historic church in the southeastern province of Van. The
baptism ceremony will be held in the recently restored ancient church
during an annual Divine Liturgy on Sept. 8.
Many Armenians in Turkey and from overseas flock to the 10th century
Church of the Holy Cross on the tiny island of Akhtamar in Armenian
in Lake Van to attend the ceremony, which has been held every year
since 2010. Turkish authorities restored the church between 2005
and 2007 before opening it as a museum, where the Divine Liturgy was
celebrated in 2010 for the first time in 95 years.
This year, a baptism ceremony will also take place during mass at
around 11 a.m. on Sept. 8 in the historical church, said Muzaffer
Aktug, head of the Van Culture and Tourism Directorate, according to
Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos.
Aktug said they expected more people to attend this year’s service
due to the ongoing peace process.