ISTANBUL—An Armenian Church in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district was the latest target of racist vandalism in the city this weekend.
Photos of graffiti reading “This homeland is ours” spray-painted on the exterior wall of the Armenian Surp Takavor Church and a pile of trash dumped in front of the church’s door began circulating on social media and various Turkish news outlets on the morning of April 30.
According to the Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos, church officials said that an individual had come to the church a day before and had exhibited suspicious behavior during a church service. Upon examination of CCTV footage, church officials believe that the same man was responsible for the graffiti and trash.
The video recordings have since been handed over to authorities and an investigation has been launched, according to the Agos report.
“Erzurumlu 25″—a possible reference to a historical event—was also spray-painted on the wall. The Erzurum Congress, an assembly of the Turkish National Movement held in 1919 in the city of Erzurum, took place in the hall of the former Sanasarian College building—a well-known Armenian language higher education institution, which partially burned in a fire in 1925. Several social media accounts exist with the username “Erzurumlu 25.” (Note: Erzurumlu in Turkish refers to someone, who is from the city of Erzurum)
The Kadıköy Municipality condemned the incident as a “racist attack” in a Twitter post, saying the necessary work has been initiated to clear the writing and remove the trash.
This is not the first incident, in which Armenian institutions have been the target of graffiti and vandalism in Istanbul in recent years. In 2016, the exterior walls of the Bomonti Mkhitarian Armenian School of Istanbul were vandalized with anti-Armenian graffiti recently. “One night, we suddenly will be in Karabagh,” read the graffiti in Turkish.