Erdogan lays stone for modern Turkey’s first new church

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, right, receives a present from Yusuf Cetin, the Turkish Christian relgious leader, in Istanbul on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 03 August 2019

Erdogan lays stone for modern Turkey’s first new church

ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday laid the foundation stone for the first new church in Turkey since it became a modern republic in 1923.
The church in the Istanbul suburb of Yesilkoy will serve the 17,000-strong Syriac Christian community, which is also paying for the new building.
“It is the Turkish republic’s duty to meet the need for space to worship for the Syriac community, who are the ancient children of this geography,” Erdogan said during the stone-laying ceremony.
Syriac Christians are part of the eastern Christian tradition and pray in Aramaic, which Jesus is believed to have spoken.
Erdogan said he hoped the construction of the Syriac Orthodox Mor Ephrem Church would be completed within two years.
He had ordered the Istanbul metropolitan municipality to find space for the building in 2009 while he was prime minister.
It is being built on land belonging to the Latin Catholic Church and which is part of an Italian cemetery, the head of the Beyoglu Virgin Mary Syriac Orthodox Church Foundation in Istanbul, Sait Susin, said.
In recent years, Turkey has restored and reopened churches but the government has been criticized for trying to Islamicize the official secular country.
Christian minorities including Armenians have also complained of being treated as second-class citizens in the Muslim-majority country.
Christians make up around 0.2 percent of the total population in Turkey.

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The new church is being built on land belonging to the Latin Catholic Church and which is part of an Italian cemetery, the head of the Beyoglu Virgin Mary Syriac Orthodox Church Foundation in Istanbul.

But Erdogan sought to extend a hand to other communities in the country of 82 million, saying “don’t forget, this country, this state belongs to everyone.”
“Anyone who has affection for, contributes to and is loyal to Turkey is a first-class citizen. There are no barriers to anyone in politics, trade or any other area.”
Official statistics show 98 percent of the Turkish population is Muslim but a poll by Konda group earlier this year showed the number of people identifying as atheist rose from 1 to 3 percent between 2008 and 2018.
In the same survey, 51 percent said they were religious in 2018 compared with 55 percent in 2008, although the number of those who said they were a “believer” rose from 31 percent to 34 percent in a decade.


Qatar tracing app flaw exposed 1 mn users’ data: Amnesty

Updated 1 min 49 sec ago

Qatar tracing app flaw exposed 1 mn users’ data: Amnesty

  • Glitch made users’ ID numbers, location, infection status vulnerable to hackers
  • More than 47,000 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for

DOHA: A security flaw in Qatar’s controversial mandatory coronavirus contact tracing app exposed sensitive information of more than one million users, rights group Amnesty International warned Tuesday.
The glitch, which was fixed on Friday after being flagged by Amnesty a day earlier, made users’ ID numbers, location and infection status vulnerable to hackers.
Privacy concerns over the app, which became mandatory for residents and citizens on pain of prison from Friday, had already prompted a rare backlash and forced officials to offer reassurance and concessions.
Users and experts had criticized the array of permissions required to install the app including access to files on Android devices, as well as allowing the software to make unprompted phone calls.
Despite insisting the unprecedented access was necessary for the system to work, officials said they would address privacy concerns and issued reworked software over the weekend.
“Amnesty International’s Security Lab was able to access sensitive information, including people’s name, health status and the GPS coordinates of a user’s designated confinement location, as the central server did not have security measures in place to protect this data,” the rights group said in a statement.
“While Amnesty International recognizes the efforts and actions taken by the government of Qatar to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures introduced to date, such as access to free health care, all measures must be in line with human rights standards.”
More than 47,000 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for the respiratory disease — 1.7 percent of the population — and 28 people have died.
Like other countries, Qatar has turned to mobiles to trace people’s movements and track who they come into contact with, allowing officials to monitor coronavirus infections and flag possible contagion.
“The Ehteraz app’s user privacy and platform security are of the utmost importance,” Qatar’s health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“A comprehensive update of the app was rolled out on Sunday May 24 with expanded security and privacy features for all users.”
But Etheraz, which means “Precaution,” continues to allow real-time location tracking of users by authorities at any time, Amnesty said.
“It was a huge security weakness and a fundamental flaw in Qatar’s contact tracing app that malicious attackers could have easily exploited,” said Claudio Guarnieri, head of the group’s security lab.
“The Qatari authorities must reverse the decision to make use of the app mandatory,” he said.