Armenian religious ceremony held in Turkey

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Armenian religious ceremony held in Turkey

Armenian religious ceremony held in Turkey
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A Turkish island has staged the first Armenian Orthodox religious service in almost a century.

The Turkish government’s hailed it as a sign of reconciliation, but in Armenia it’s been condemned as a publicity stunt.

The church has been closed for services since the mass killings of Armenians in the area in 1915.

For hundreds of people who took part in the ceremony, it was a moving experience.

“It is so different, so emotional,” said one man. “It’s not possible to stop crying when you hear the choir inside the church. You can’t describe it.”

A woman said: “I’m thinking of my grandfather and my Dad. They wanted to come here and it’s a pity that they couldn’t. But today I’m here. At least I could come and step on this soil.”

Many other Armenians missed the celebrations, boycotting the event to protest that a cross had not been placed on the church roof.

The authorities said it was too heavy but would be put up later.

In the Armenian capital Yerevan, hundreds attended an alternative religious service. It took place at a memorial site for the victims of what Armenia says was genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War I.

Ankara rejects the term and says large numbers of both Armenians and Turks were killed.