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Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate takes over historic Botanical Garden

The Alfred Heilbronn Botanical garden that is part of the University of Istanbul was proclaimed to be a historical site in 1995 and all the plants that are present in the garden were put under protection as mandated by the state. In 2013, a few news sources had claimed that the presidency of religious affairs wanted to acquire the botanical garden, infuriating the general public. After a CHP municipal parliament member of the Fatih municipality filed an inquiry, it has become apparent that the botanical garden was quietly acquired by the presidency of religious affairs or Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı in 2015.

Most of the garden was appropriated by the presidency of religious affairs except for 14,878 m2 that will be transferred under the possession of the presidency of religious affairs when the University’s Botany center is relocated into the biology building.

The CHP parliament member Fazil Ugur Soylu has wearily inquired about whether the presidency of religious affairs wants to re-transform the garden into the Shaykh al-Islām’s residency (residency of the highest ranked religious scholar under the ottoman empire). He has also underlined that it is extremely hard to move these rare plants, fossils and seras without damaging them. Soylu has promised to closely follow the developments about the garden.

Denizalp Göktaş from CNNTurk

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