Another church has been attacked in Turkey. The cross at the door of the Surp Krikor Lusaroviç (Saint Gregory the Illuminator) Armenian Church was dismantled by an unidentified person.
The video of the attack on Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Church was shared on social media. The video shows that the attacker climbed on the door and lowered the cross after waiting in front of the church for a while.
The Chief Public Prosecutor's Office said on May 28 that a suspect was detained in connection with the Armenian church attack.
Security footage delivered to the police showed the attack occurred on May 23 in the Skoutarion (Σκουτάριον, Turkish: Üsküdar) district of Constantinople. The Armenian church said they have lodged a criminal complaint about the incident and have placed the cross back in its place.
Garo Paylan, an Armenian lawmaker in the Turkish Parliament for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), condemned the incident, calling it a hate crime.
"Attacks continue on our churches. The cross of our Surp Krikor Lusaroviç Armenian Church was removed and thrown away. Hate speech made by the ruling power normalises hate crimes," he said in a tweet.
Kiliselerimize saldırılar devam ediyor.
Kuzguncuk Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Ermeni Kilisemizin haçı sökülüp yere atıldı.
İktidarın nefret söylemleri, nefret suçlarını olağanlaştırıyor. pic.twitter.com/txaL4CiGIs
— Garo Paylan - Կարօ Փայլան (@GaroPaylan) May 27, 2020
The MP then questioned why Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu did not condemn the attack, the third such attack against churches in May alone.
Kuzguncuk Ermeni Kilisemize dayanışma ziyaretinde bulundum.
Nefret saldırısıyla kırılıp yere atılan haç tekrar yerine takıldı.
Erdoğan ve Soylu kilisemize yapılan saldırıyı hâlâ kınamadı.
Kilisemizin hemen yanında bir cami var.
İkisi de ibadethane değil mi? pic.twitter.com/bVrrbcxU4C
— Garo Paylan - Կարօ Փայլան (@GaroPaylan) May 29, 2020
Turkey is once again on a U.S. State Department’s "Special Watch List" in the 2020 Annual Report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), as reported by Greek City Times.
Turkey was the only country in NATO to be on the "Special Watch List" because "in 2019, religious freedom conditions in Turkey remained worrisome, with the perpetuation of restrictive and intrusive governmental policies on religious practice and a marked increase in incidents of vandalism and societal violence against religious minorities."
"Throughout 2019, members of Turkey’s various religious and ethnic minority communities faced both threats of violence and actual violence, including at least two killings. In May, 86-year-old Zafir Pinari, a Greek man, was found murdered in his home on the island of Gökçeada [Imvros, Greek: Ίμβρος]," the report said.