Date:  June 3, 2020

A cross was torn from the gates of an Armenian church in Turkey on 23 May by a man who defiantly carried out the act in full view of a security camera.

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A sequence of pictures shows, from the left, the vandal staring defiantly into the security camera, wrenching the cross from the church gate and walking away after throwing the cross on the ground

The vandal paused to stare into the lens, before climbing the fencing around St Gregory Church, Istanbul and wrenching the cross from the top of it.

Armenian politician and Turkish MP Garo Paylan posted on Facebook film of the incident, which he called a hate crime. He tweeted, “Attacks continue on our churches.

“The cross of our Surp Krikor Lusaroviç [St Gregory Church] was removed and thrown away. Hate speech by the ruling power normalises hate crimes.”

According to Paylan, “hate attacks against churches and synagogues take place several times a year”.

Hostility towards Christians has worsened in recent years, as secularism has given way to Islam with the rise of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Its founder, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey since 2014, has been outspoken about his desire to recreate the Ottoman Empire.

Two weeks ago, a vandal attempted to burn the door of a church in the Bakirkoy region. In February 2019, vandals spray-painted the words “you are finish” in English and Arabic across an Armenian church in Istanbul. In October 2019, the AKP initiated an overt anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic, poster campaign in Konya that warned Muslims “not to take the Jews and Christians as allies” (a reference to Quran 5:51).