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Eddie Mair | 17:19 UK time, Friday, 31 October 2008

On last night's programme, our religious affairs correspondent reported from Cologne in Germany, where the plan to build one of Europe's largest mosques by the largely Turkish Muslim community - on this site -


has won support from local church and civic leaders. This is the proposed new mosque:


But they've issued a challenge to the Turkish government, asking that Christians in Turkey should be able to worship freely at an historic church in Tarsus, the Turkish birthplace of St Paul.

(Catholics worshipping in Mersin, almost 20 miles from Tarsus.)

That church is currently run by the government - as a museum:




  • 1. At 5:28pm on 31 Oct 2008, mummysaunders wrote:

    I am really fed up of the way BBC News are contributing to the furore over Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand and does the member of the NUT seriously think Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross' target audience are primary school children? If so maybe he should contemplate resigning!

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  • 2. At 5:31pm on 31 Oct 2008, T A Griffin (TAG) wrote:

    I hope the BBC are going to issue a statement about their new policy with regard to contents on comments on blogs. They are removing items on the basis that they are off topic. This is a disgrace and is a definite change of policy. The moderaters are censors, the Prime Minister must not be able to get away with just him setting the agenda. They don't like it.

    My name is Terry Griffin

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  • 3. At 6:00pm on 31 Oct 2008, U11204129 wrote:

    Immediately in front of me, from the Golden Horn Hotel (Glass Boxed) roof restaurant stood Haghia Sophia and Sinan's masterpiece, the Blue Mosque.

    The Haghia Sophia is a museum. It would be better cared for if it returned to being a mosque, as a majority of people in Turkey would wish.

    But we are stuck with Ataturk's 'secular state'. He turned it into a museum.

    Islam is challenged in Turkey by Attaturk's legacy, as is democracy, not least by the Deep State and the military currently on trial there.

    On a world wide scale Chrisitianity is far more powerfully placed than Islam.
    It's a slippery slope.

    First, St Paul' s tomb church, then, ignoring the last seven centuries, the demand that Haghia Sophia go back to it's (Constantinian) Christian origin.

    The first thing the Christians would do is fill these buildings with images of DEATH, on crosses, by arrows, death as died or eternally experienced by the dead fixed in stone effigies.

    No such hideous emphasis on death is to be found in any mosque in Turkey.

    In Christian churches you find bits of the dead looking like left over bones gnawed by dogs.

    In the Blue Mosque is nothing but exquisite life affirming light and beauty.

    I recommend St Paul's church-grave being turned into a mosque.

    Your reporter was giving the Christianity PR view. No change there then.

    What SHALL we do?

    What SHALL we do?

    What SHALL we do?

    Well, the Oxfam call centres will take contributions directed to East and North Africa large scale water projects.

    No doubt Edgie Eddie Tittlebum will give out the number*.

    * Have you noticed there are more messages from him as to how to contribute to iPM ('I demand that my parking meter** give me change') than ever there are as to how to contribute to the end of world poverty whether by charitable or political action.

    ** I thought I'd leave that as my original erroneous 'metre'. That would have brought 40 replies fro mall of Edgie Eddie Tittlebum's favourite posters. But I feel too much like Siegfried Sassoon.

    What SHALL we do?

    What SHALL we do?

    What SHALL we DO?

    Well, the Oxfam call centres will take contributions directed to East and North Africa large scale water projects.

    No doubt Edgie Eddie Tittlebum will give out the number.

    Or phone your MP now and demand to know why poverty still haunts Africa.

    Write the rules in the sky

    And ask your pm and political leaders WHYYY!

    Oh, I've just heard the Paddy O'Connell plug! Edgy Eddie is SO out there.

    Missed the Oxfam number, or how to email your MP, though.

    Must be listener 'cloth ears', eh!

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  • 4. At 7:09pm on 31 Oct 2008, Gillianian wrote:

    pmleader - you are perfectly capable of raising a salient point without making personal comments. You do yourself no justice by being unpleasant about individuals.

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  • 5. At 10:11am on 01 Nov 2008, mittfh wrote:

    Why does poverty still haunt Africa?
    As with all political questions, the answer is multi-factored.

    Contributory factors include: climate, soil, competition for resources, power struggles, and the many aftermaths of colonisation.

    I read somewhere that colonisation took about 5,000 tribes and created about 50 countries. When the colonial power structures were dismantled, they left behind a power vacuum and about 5,000 tribes now equipped with Western arms and the possibility of ruling a far larger area than they had previously done so before colonisation. Many countries have struggled to run effectively, with many succumbing to civil war or autocracy.

    Again, the solutions are complex. Aid agencies can play a part, but perhaps what the countries could really do with is guidance on good governership. Perferably by someone outside Europe, who are still remembered as former colonial powers, or the US, which is populated mainly by ex-Europeans, and has a habit of only getting involved in international affairs if it thinks it can make a profit (and in recent history, comprehensively mis-judging the situation!)

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  • 6. At 1:26pm on 02 Nov 2008, U11204129 wrote:


    Nice one Mitth!

    But the profits went to Europe, so how do non - European powers get Europe to pay it's bit?

    That is where Brown on Africa comes in, surely.

    With Pres Obama and CHINA making sure America pays.

    Lets hope all this good doesn't let our haute bourgeoisie off the obligation to get proper jobs.

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  • 7. At 11:03am on 03 Nov 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Going back to the mosque for a bit: that design looks good to me.

    I was living in Regent's Park when they started to build the mosque there, and I always thought how perfectly it fitted in and how much the Prince Regent would have loved that big golden dome, to go with the little domes on Sussex Place.

    It does seem only fair to let the Christians have back their church in Turkey. I'd rather have it being a church than a museum, if there is a congregation available who would look after it. They could put a museum somewhere else, but if St Paul worshipped in the church one can't easily change that now. Well, in a church on that site.

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  • 8. At 11:45am on 03 Nov 2008, Humph wrote:

    Chris (7) Is there any evidence that he would have worshipped there? Paul (or rather Saul as he was first called) was born a jew and would have worshipped in a synagogue. I do not think that he returned to Tarsus after making his way towards Damascus one time.


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  • 9. At 4:25pm on 03 Nov 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Humph @ 8, y'know, that's a good question! Probably you're right and he didn't, since there won't have been any Christian church buildings while he was being a Christian. But I think if it was being a place of Christian worship for five hundred years or more, and there are Christians there who want to continue the tradition, they probably have a better case than it being used as a museum even if one ignores the St Paul business altogether.

    Just as I feel that if someone wants to convert a church in this country into a block of flats or an office suite or an auction-house, but there are a large enough group of Christians who want to keep it going as a church, it ought to remain a church. (See Private Eye on the subject, quite recently, I think.)

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  • 10. At 4:34pm on 03 Nov 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    C_G 9, We have a former C of E church near us that is now an office building. It relocated farther from the Cathedral to get more people. All you need to do is deconsecrate it like they do to the land when moving a cemetery.

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  • 11. At 6:15pm on 03 Nov 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    DMcN @ 10, I wasn't disputing the possibility; I was commenting on the desirablity.

    The ex-churches within a mile of this house are respectively a health-club, a building society office plus auction-house with housing in the upper floors, a block of sheltered flats for the elderly, and two expensive and exclusive blocks of strangely-shaped appartments on two or more levels.

    So we now have to choose which of the six or eight churches of various denominations, one RC cathedral, one Friends' meeting house, and one Kingdom Hall within a mile of the door we find most congenial (the CofE churches ranging from High Oxford to Happy-Clappy Evangelical). The Polish church and the Christian Scientists' establishment are within walking distance but more than a mile away... I don't think there are any Scientologists immediately local to here, though, and the Baptists' place is *miles* away!

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