Mersin Interfaith Cemetery
Memorial section in Mersin Interfaith Cemetery
|Owned by||Mersin Metropolitan Municipality|
|Size||360 decares (360,000 m2)|
|No. of graves||75,000|
Mersin Interfaith Cemetery (Turkish: Mersin Şehir Mezarlığı, also called Mersin Asri Cemetery and Akbelen Cemetery), is a burial ground in Mersin, Turkey. It is notable for being a common cemetery of all religions and includes graves of Muslims, Christians, and Jews.
The rectangular cemetery is located in the Yusuf Kılıç neighborhood, one of the northernmost neighborhoods of Mersin. The bird's flight distance to the Mediterranean coast (hence the city center) is 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi). Administratively, the cemetery is part of the Toroslar Municipality. Akbelen Boulevard, which connects the city center to the Toros Mountains, is to the west and Okan Merzeci Boulevard, which is a ring road of Mersin, is to the south of the cemetery. The main gate is on the south wall. The total area of the cemetery is about 360 decares (360,000 m2), including a "soldiers-memorial cemetery" (Turkish: şehitlik).
Until the 1930s there were many small cemeteries in the urban fabric of Mersin. But as the city grew, establishing a new and large cemetery became one of the priorities of the municipality. Mayor Mithat Toroğlu assigned German architect Hermann Jansen to prepare a city plan for Mersin. In 1938 the Mersin cemetery was established in one of the locations that Jansen proposed.
The cemetery originally measured 260 decares (0.26 km2; 0.10 sq mi) and was located outside the city's residential area. Later the grounds were expanded. Toroğlu initiated a project of transferring corpses to the new cemetery, which was used up until the 2010s. There are now about 75,000 graves in the cemetery. As of 2010, the cemetery is completely filled and new quarters of the city have been established around the cemetery. The municipality has established new cemeteries that are farther away from the city center.
In Turkey all religions traditionally use many different cemeteries for their burials. Mersin City Cemetery is an exception. While different religions were initially separated by section, spousal burials brought different religions into the same plot (newspaper columnist Özdemir İnce notes that one family plot has a Muslim man and Jewish woman) and gradually the sections opened to all religions. Approximately 5,000 of the graves in the cemetery are of Christians and Jews. On 26 February 1998 the cemetery was included in the List of Cultural Property of the Ministry of Culture.
İnce recalls that in 2003, both Christian priests and Muslim hocas prayed during the burial ceremony of Hanri Atat, a celebrity of Mersin. In 1999, Lina Nasif, a painter and a citizen of Mersin, organized an annual multi-religion ceremony, called a "traditional praying ceremony" (Turkish: geleneksel dua töreni), to stress and preserve the characteristics of the cemetery. During the ceremony, hocas and priests pray and give speeches on peace. Hymns are sung in several languages. In a 2009 ceremony, Mersin mayor Macit Özcan stressed that the deceased of different religions all lay in peace and everybody should do his/her best to keep this feature of the cemetery.
Notable persons buried at Mersin Interfaith Cemetery
- Konca Kuris (1960-1999), Muslim Turkish feminist writer
- Ahmet Mersinli (1914-1979), Turkish sports wrestler
- Nevit Kodallı (1925-2009), Turkish composer
- Mithat Toroğlu, former mayor of Mersin
- Leaders of the Kuva-yi Milliye Turkish militia forces during the Turkish War of Independence
- "Mezarlık haritası" [Map of the cemetery] (in Turkish). Harita Map. 2012–14.
- GÜNGÖR, İZGİ (10 March 2008). "Not only bodies, but prejudices buried in Mersin Cemetery". Hurriyet Daily News. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- ""Asri Mezarlık - Mersin Merkez" Harita üzerinde" ["Asri Cemetery Mersin Central" on the map] (in Turkish). Netkayıt.com.
- Beyhan, Burak; Uğuz, Selçuk (27 April 2012). "Planning as a Tool for Modernization in Turkey: The Case of Hermann Jansen's Plan for Mersin" (PDF). Middle East Technical University. doi:10.4305/METU.JFA.2012.2.1.
- Aykin, Ziya (2013). "MERSİN'İN KRONOLOJİK TARİHİ" [Chronological History of Mersin] (in Turkish). Yumuktepe.
- İnce, Özdemir (5 January 2004). "Medeniyetler buluşması" [Meeting of the Civilizations] (in Turkish). Hurriyet.com.tr.
- "Mezarlıkta hoşgörü dersi verdiler" [Cemeteries Gave Lessons in Tolerance]. Kenthaber.com (in Turkish). 25 January 2005. Archived from the original on 23 December 2013.
- "Mersin Şehir Mezarlığı'nda Semavi Dinler Buluşması" [Mersin City Cemetery Abrahamic Religions Gathering] (in Turkish). Haberler.com. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- "BAŞKAN ÖZCAN, "BÜTÜN DİNLERİN ORTAK NOKTASI SEVGİDİR"" [President Özcan: "The mid-point of all religions is love"] (in Turkish). Department of Information Processing of Mersin Metropolitan Municipality, Turkey. 2009.
- CNN Turk news (in Turkish)
Video from Dailymotion |
Ceremony of all religions)