Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, sent a letter to Republic of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan raising concerns about the abrupt revocation of a license for the annual Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Assumption at Panagia Sumela Monastery in Trabzon on August 15, 2016. A copy of the signed letter can be found here.
The members expressed their concern over “reports of government-sponsored religion suppression and interference with the peaceful worship at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey” and urged the President “to take action to alleviate fears that this recent license revocation is a precursor to a longer term prevention of use of the Panagia Sumela Monastery by the thousands of Orthodox Christians who have traveled to Trabzon to take part in the celebration of the Feast of the Assumption there since it reopened in 2010.”
Reps. Maloney and Bilirakis urged President Erdoğan to once again allow the peaceful gathering in observance of the annual Christian celebration moving forward and noted, “Partnership and cooperation on human rights are critical to achieve 21st Century prosperity. With rising violations of freedom of religion or belief around the globe, we must strive to advance this fundamental freedom for everyone everywhere.”