Dutch MPs Raise Questions on Assyrian Monastery in Turkey
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(AINA) -- The recent threat to the saint Gabriel monastery (AINA 9-16-2008), an Assyrian monastery in Turkey, have led a number of Dutch Members of parliament to put forward parliamentary questions to the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, Maxime Verhagen.

Christian democrats Pieter Omtzigt en Maarten Haverkamp, together with Christian Union MP Joel Voordewind ask him whether he shares the view that cultural heritage like the Saint Gabriel monastery should be protected, as this is the oldest Syrian orthodox monastery and in fact one of the oldest surviving monasteries in the world. They also urge him to contact the Turkish authorities. The minister has three weeks to answer the questions and take action.

"We would like this monastery and its lands to be used by the church and worshippers, who have done so for 1600 years," According to Pieter Omtzigt, a member of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe. "Freedom of religion and worship means that churches of all dominations should be able to have their buildings and conduct their own affairs. If necessary we shall bring the issue of Christian minorities in Turkey to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg as well".

Pieter Omtzigt has been a Member of parliament for the Christian Democratic Party (CDA) in the Netherlands since 2003 and is currently spokesman on taxation, pensions en corporate governance. He is also member of the parliamentary assembly of the council of Europe in Straatsburg. In the committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and minorities he is raporteur on the status of Kosovo and on whistle blowers. In Twente he is in close contact with the Syrian Orthodox Comunities in Glanerbrug, Enschede, Hengelo and Rijssen.

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