05/31/2020 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Turkish police detained a suspect, identified only as M.S., on Thursday as part of investigation into the defacing of an Armenian church in the Kuzguncuk district of Istanbul. The chief prosecutor’s office announced that they are charging the man with “harming places of worship.” No other details about the status of the investigation was released.
The church was defaced on May 22nd when a man climbed over the church gate to remove the cross, throwing it onto the ground. The cross was later replaced. Churches in Turkey, along with mosques, have been closed because of COVID-19.
The vandalism of churches is, unfortunately, common in Turkey. Many of the impacted churches are Armenian, a community whose numbers drastically decreased because of a genocide which targeted them just over a century ago. Turkey has never recognized the genocide, and instead encourages the country to falsely think of Armenians as “dirty” and enemies of Turkey. Hate speech directed towards Armenians are commonplace. It places Armenians—and other victims of the genocide—in an impossible situation.