Man rips cross from Armenian church in latest attack against Christian sites in Istanbul

Last Saturday, a man attacked the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Church in Galata, Istanbul’s oldest Armenian Apostolic church. For an Armenian member of the Turkish parliament, attacks against Christian places of worship continue. Hate speech by those in power is normalising criminal behaviour. Earlier this month, the door of another Armenian church was set on fire.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Another church has been attacked amid growing hostility towards Christians in Turkey, which includes arrests, mysterious disappearances, unresolved deaths and a policy of rights violations.

Last Saturday, an unknown man (pictured) ripped the cross from the gate of the Armenian Surp Krikor Lusaroviç (Saint Gregory the Illuminator) Church in Kuzguncuk district, on the Asian side of Istanbul.

The police opened a file against persons unknown, saying that they wanted to shed light on the incident, the Agos weekly reported.

However, since then there have been no further developments despite the fact that the attacker was caught on camera.

In the meantime, church officials have taken steps to repair the damage replacing the old cross with a new one.

The latest attack against a Christian target reflects a growing climate of hostility and repression towards minority groups in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Acts of violence and abuse fit with the president’s policy of ‘nationalism and Islam,’ as evinced by the controversy over Hagia Sophia.

Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish parliament for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP)[*] tweeted that “Attacks continue on our churches. The cross of our Surp Krikor Lusaroviç Armenian Church was removed and thrown away. Hate speech by the ruling power normalizes hate crimes."

The CCTV footage captured the attack. Around 7.20 pm, a man is seen looking at the security cameras for a while, perhaps in an act of defiance, and then remove the cross, noted Edvart Ayvazyan, head of the church foundation, speaking to Bianet, an independent Istanbul-based Turkish press agency.

The local Security Bureau is working on the incident but without any result so far.

Less than three weeks ago the Surp Asdvadzadzin Patriarchal Church was attacked. The church is located near the offices of the Armenian patriarchate of Constantinople, near the Bakırköy district, on the European side of Istanbul.

On 8 May, a man tried to set fire to the door of the building, but was arrested by police.

[*] Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP) in Turkish; Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan (PDG) in Kurdish; also known in English as the Democratic Party of the Peoples.