Greece Protests Turkey Over Nightclub Band At Soumela Monastery – The Organization for World Peace
On February 7, the Greek Foreign Ministry publicly denounced the presence of a Turkish group in the former Orthodox Christian monastery of Sumela in Turkey. Videos of people dancing and the band playing electronic music in front of the monastery were posted on the internet. “These images are offensive and add to a series of actions by the Turkish authorities against World Heritage sites”, according to a statement from the Greek Foreign Ministry, “We call on the competent Turkish authorities to take appropriate measures so that such acts are not repeated and the sacred site of the monastery is respected. The Greek Foreign Ministry also said that the monastery of Panagia Soumela is supposed to be only available for pilgrims and that the group should not have had access to the heritage site.
Panagia Soumela Monastery was reopened in May 2019 after three years of restoration efforts in response to a risk of rockfall from nearby Mount Karadağ in 2015. Sumela is a monastic complex built into a steep cliff above the Black Sea forest in eastern Turkey in the 4th century, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius I. The monastery remains one of the most impressive and picturesque architectural marvels in the world. The complex is carved into the rock in a wooded area on the side of Mount Karadağ in Maçka, which rises about 300 meters above the Altındere Valley. Greece and Turkey have a complicated relationship, with the two states undergoing frequent alternating periods of mutual hostility and reconciliation following Greek independence in 1830. The monastery of Panagia Soumela was also once part of Greece, which may be one possible reason why the Greek Foreign Ministry is outspoken on the subject.
The monastery was stripped of its official religious status and currently operates as a museum under the Ministry of Culture in Turkey. Today, the complex is arguably the most important tourist spot in the Black Sea and Trabzon region. Panagia Soumela is a sacred site revered by a people, a culture as a place of spiritual practice and religious observances. Although the monastery has been stripped of its official religious status, it still attracts thousands of Orthodox Christian worshipers each year. The Greek Foreign Ministry raises a valid point about the inappropriate nature of disco bands playing electronic music at a sacred site like the monastery of Panagia Soumela. The heritage site demands respect from its visitors, and activities such as dancing and music should not be tolerated.