The Greek Foreign Ministry has in a statement condemned a DJ party at the Greek Orthodox Sumela Monastery in the Black Sea province of Trabzon while calling on Turkish authorities to take the necessary steps to prevent such “acts of disrespect” towards the sanctuary.
“The recent images that were displayed on social media in which a foreign band seems to be dancing [to disco music] in the vicinity of the historic Monastery of Panagia Soumela are a desecration of this monument, a candidate for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website on Monday.
Images and a video posted on social media over the weekend showed that a disc jockey named Ahmet Şenterzi shot a promotional video with his team at the monastery, which is currently closed to visitors due to ongoing renovations. Şenterzi shot the film after securing special permission from the Trabzon Governor’s Office and the provincial directorate for culture and tourism.
“It is surprising that a permit was issued for this complex as the Monastery of Panagia [Virgin Mary] Soumela opens only for pilgrimage,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said, adding that the images from the monastery were offensive and add to a series of actions by Turkish authorities against World Heritage Sites.
“We call on the relevant Turkish authorities to do their due diligence so that such acts are not repeated and the [sanctity] of the monastery is respected,” added the statement.
Sumela Monastery, which dates back to the fourth century, is considered one of Turkey’s most important faith tourism sites and is included in UNESCO’s temporary list of World Heritage Sites.
It was reopened on Aug. 15, 2010 for the Christian Orthodox community following an 88-year hiatus. But it has remained closed since 2015 due to the risk of landslide from the neighboring Mount Karadağ. The monastery is nestled in a steep cliff at an altitude of around 1,200 meters. It is reopened to visitors for short periods of time.