Diba is a Christian who left Turkey 23 years ago after Muslims killed her brother. Today she returns , hoping she can live there in peace. What she finds is a smaller Christian community still living with fear and uncertainty?
“It was much better here before. We were with thousands. All churches were full. But now our people are gone”, says Diba as she pores over her photos of a now disappearing culture. Her face expresses the immeasurable sadness of a vanishing people. Despite her return the future looks bleak for the remaining Assyrian Christians in Turkey. While Turkey claims to be a secular country intolerance still abounds. “What the issue is here, is that there is no real mentality of freedom of religion. There is just one religion here, Islam”. says Ria Oomen-Ruijten, a representative of the European Union in Turkey, as she explains the frequent attacks on Christians in Turkey; one man was attacked by a fundamentalist with a knife in broad daylight on a street in Istanbul. It is this culture of intolerance that is driving the remaining Monks from Dor Gabriel, one of the oldest sanctuaries of the Turkish Christian community. Yet Diba is not about to give up. She sees a different future for Christians in Turkey and is willing to fight for it. “Our dream? We will fight for our land. We will stay on our land. That is what we will try”.