Syriac MP Tuma Çelik asks Ministry of Culture to do more to preserve Christian heritage in Turkey

URHOY/MARDIN, Turkey — Syriac Member of Turkish Parliament for Mardin Tuma Çelik has submitted parliamentary questions to the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, about the fate of the historic buildings left to their fate in and around the city of Urhoy and which have fallen into ruins.

Urhoy is ancient Edessa from where Syriac Christianity and the Syriac language, part of the Aramaic language family, spread over a large area in the Middle East. It is contemporary Şanlıurfa in southeast Turkey.

Independent MP Çelik holds the Ministry of Culture responsible for not doing enough to preserve Turkey’s cultural heritage and asks why the Minister of Culture is not preserving the historical heritage of Urhoy. As an example, MP Çelik points to the ‘Palace of the Maidens’ nunnery – ‘Kasr-al-Banat’ in Arabic and ‘Kizlar Sarayi’ in Turkish. This nunnery was built in 1905 in Viranşehir, Şanlıurfa municipality.

The ‘Kasr-al-Banat’ convent has fallen into disrepair because it is not looked after. The buildings belonging to this historical heritage object are used by locals as stables and storage. MP for Mardin Çelik asks the Minister of Culture about his knowledge of the causes of the ruined convent and who is responsible for its disrepair.

Is the ministry going to investigate the circumstances and condition of the convent? Does the Ministry have a list of all historic buildings in Urhoy and its surrounding area, and how many of them have fallen into disrepair? Finally, MP Çelik asks whether there is sufficient government budget available to save historic buildings like this from destruction throughout all of Turkey?