By Halil Ibrahim Sincar, Nilay Kar
Members of Turkey’s Assyrian Christian community on Friday criticized the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Speaking to reporters in the southeastern Mardin province, Mardin Protestant Church Pastor Ender Peker stressed the importance of Jerusalem for all three Abrahamic faiths -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
“One of the names for Jerusalem is Dar-Es Salaam, which means ‘city of peace.’ In line with this name, let peace in Jerusalem continue,” said the clergyman.
“Jerusalem is important to everyone. Many prophets passed through there. It a sacred place for many religions. So our wish is that no problem breaks out there," he continued.
Stating that Jerusalem should not get caught up in politics, the pastor said: “The solution lies with politicians.”
“We hope it becomes a city of peace and will bring peace to Middle East,” he added.
Suphi Yerli, 73, an Assyrian craftsman, called Jerusalem the “common heritage of all humanity.”
“Jerusalem should not be the capital” of Israel, he said.
“Jerusalem belongs not only to the Jews, but also to all Christians and Muslims.”
He added: “My request of Jews is, ‘Don’t do that.’ People will suffer from this. War will erupt again, blood will be shed again. People will go hungry.”
U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision on Wednesday despite widespread international opposition.
Jerusalem remains at the core of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- now occupied by Israel -- might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
On the campaign trail last year, Trump repeatedly promised to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Turkey will host an extraordinary meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Dec. 13 to discuss the U.S. move.
Assyrians or Syriacs are an ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient northern Mesopotamia. Their language Assyrian – an Aramaic tongue – is one of the oldest in the world, with a history stretching back 5,500 years.
Community groups say there are some 26,000 Assyrians living in Turkey. Around 20,000 of them live in Istanbul, while others live in the eastern cities of Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Elazig, and Mardin.