Protest against attack on Armenian church in Istanbul

More than a hundred years after the Armenian Genocide, Armenian churches in Turkey continue to be a target of attack. In Istanbul, a protest has been held against the disrespect shown by a bawling crowd in front of the Surp Takavor Church.

There have been protests in Istanbul against the disrespect shown to the Armenian Surp Takavor Church. On Sunday, a crowd had gathered in front of the church in Kadiköy, three people had climbed on the entrance gate to dance there amid bawling applause. A video of the scene had been circulated on the Internet.

The "Democracy Forces of Kadiköy" held a rally on Wednesday to mark the occasion. While Sunday's action went unhindered, the protest rally took place in a police encirclement. The activists held a banner reading "We will not allow attacks on our values in Kadiköy" and shouted, "Long live the brotherhood of peoples, we will not let the darkness pass!"

Koray Türkay of the Democracy Forces said in a speech that Kadiköy is a multicultural and multilingual place where value is placed on mutual respect. He said that the government is relying on social polarization and hostility between peoples for its own power preservation. "Against this policy of exclusion and agitation, we will continue to defend a multicultural coexistence. We know that here one man, one religion and one language are not enough. In history, many cultures, religious communities and languages have lived here. We are here today to defend this historical fact against the attempted erasure of the past. We condemn the disrespect shown to the Surp Takavor Church and advocate for multicultural living."

Speaking further on behalf of the Kadikoy Democracy Forces, Rahim Noz pointed out that the district, located on the Asian side of Istanbul, has been an example of peaceful coexistence between different faith communities for hundreds of years. The July 11 provocation, he said, was a continuation of various attacks since 2013 and took place in an atmosphere created by the inaction of the security forces. Moreover, the ugly incident occurred on the day when the Armenian festival of Wardawar is celebrated.

Noz stressed that the incident did not just happen. There is a continuous police presence in the square and arrests are made immediately at opposition rallies, Noz said. Sunday's incident, on the other hand, lasted for hours, he said. "The people of Kadikoy will continue to defend the fraternal and equal coexistence of peoples. Against the polarizing government policies, we will persistently continue to sing the songs of peace, equality and brotherhood," Rahim Noz said.