Armenian church in Turkey defaced, suspect arrested

A man suspected of vandalising an Armenian church in Istanbul has been arrested, the news site Diken said. 

Turkey’s chief prosecutor's office’s said in a statement that an investigation had been launched under the crime of “harming places of worship" after a cross on the gate of an Armenian church in the Kuzguncuk district of Istanbul had been found ripped off and thrown onto the pavement in front of the church on Tuesday.

A suspect with the initials M.S. was detained on Thursday, Diken said.

The church’s security tapes showed that a man came to the church on Friday evening, scaled the church’s gate, and dismantled the cross.

The cross has now been remounted on the church door, the Christian magazine Persecution said on Thursday.

Persecution said that churches are often vandalised in Turkey. Around two weeks ago a vandal attempted to burn the door of an Armenian church in the Istanbul neighbourhood of Bakırköy.

Earlier this month, the Turkish magazine Gerçek Hayat published a special 176-page edition which accused Armenians and other Christians in Turkey of terrorist activities and blamed them for participating in the failed 2016 coup attempt. 

“It is common for persecution incidents to increase whenever hate speech in the Turkish media is published,” Persecution said.