Turkey condemns ‘unacceptable’ attack on Armenian church in Istanbul

A church in Istanbul was recently attacked. (AFP pic)

ISTANBUL: The Turkish government on Tuesday strongly condemned an attack on an Armenian church in Istanbul which saw nationalist graffiti scrawled outside the building and garbage dumped at its door.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the attack on Monday on the Surp Takavor church in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul was “unacceptable” and emphasised security forces were investigating who was behind it.

It said after the incident Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had spoken to the acting Istanbul Armenian Patriarch Aram Ateşyan and the head of the church in Kadıköy to pass his best wishes.

The attack saw piles of garbage dumped outside the entrance to the church and the words “from an Erzurum resident, this homeland is ours” scrawled on a wall.

Relations between Turkey and Armenia remain held up by the dispute over the massacres of Ottoman Armenians from 1915. Yerevan considers this incident a genocide, while Turkey strongly rejects the term.

Only a fraction of the historic population of Armenians remain in Turkey but a culturally-dynamic community numbering tens of thousands lives on, concentrated in Istanbul, where there are numerous Armenian churches.

Such attacks on the places of worship of Istanbul’s present-day Christian and Jewish communities are extremely rare.