Akhtamar Needs Our Souls, not the Armenian Flags
Cover photo: Čertus
On September 9, 2018, after a three-year break, in the Armenian Church of Surb Khach, on the island of Akhtamar in Turkey, a liturgy, dedicated to the feast of Khachverats was organized. Such a long period of the ban on holding liturgies, the Turkish authorities were explaining by the unstable situation in the territory of Western Armenia, in particular, the armed conflict with the Kurds.
The permission was given when the Patriarch of Constantinople Aram Ateshyan appealed to the relevant bodies. On that day, thousands of Armenians made pilgrimage from different parts of the world. Various Turkish officials were present at the ceremony, including the minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Ersoy.
The Armenian media writes that the pilgrimage was turned by the Turks into tourism and rules were established for visiting the church. As the authorities mention, it was done for security reasons. Visitors with Armenian flags were forbidden to enter the church's territory, which caused an outrage among some representatives of the Armenian society and the media.
The ultimate goal of the Turkish authorities was to show their loyalty to religious minorities, and the event was more like a visit to a tourist site than a truly Christian ceremony. Some Armenians, in fact, supported that desire: many of them appeared with Armenian flags, which, obviously, could be interpreted by the Turks as a provocation.
It is not surprising at all that the entrance to the church with flags was banned by the relevant authorities in Turkey and it is unclear why this is outrageous for someone. Let's ask the question: Are the flags appropriate during the religious ceremony?
The reality is that the island of Akhtamar with the Church of Surb Khach are in Turkey. The time when it was necessary to raise the flags, has passed. Today, being invited only with the permission of the Turkish authorities to a Christian ceremony, one must be aware of the situation and behave accordingly
Many Armenians visit the Surb Khach Church with flags at different times and believe they have done something impressive, but the point is different: the point is to know the Armenian prayers, to pray in Akhtamar, to walk silently in its blissful silence and be filled with its energy.
The Turkish media about the ceremony: