September 3, 2009

Patriarch on Death List, Orthodox Fear Another Pogrom

For Good or Else? Chistian Houses in Turkey Marked

Gates of Vienna
02 September 2009

Our Austrian correspondent ESW has translated a report from Die Presse about ominous new developments in Istanbul that bode ill for Turkey’s few remaining Christians:

Strangers “Marking” Christian Buildings in Istanbul

Buildings inhabited by Christians have been marked with insignias in several districts of Istanbul. The labeling of the buildings are clearly done in concert with increasing harassment of the Christian inhabitants.

Some buildings in the traditionally Christian districts of Feriköy and Kurtulus have recently been labeled with green and red signs. Apparently they were affixed to point to buildings inhabited by Armenians and Greeks. The labels appear to be in conjunction with complaints from Christians about increasing harassment, according to Sehabat Tuncel, a member of parliament asked in a parliamentary questioning.

Besir Atalay, minister of interior, is now forced to answer these allegations. “Who affixed these markings?” is only one of the questions cited by the press. The ministry must also make clear whether the police received orders to take action and investigate.

Patriarch on a Death List

Residing in the Phanar in Istanbul, ecumenical patriarch Bartholomaios I has apparently been added to a death list kept by the nationalist-laicist secret society “Ergenekon”, which is accused of trying to push Turkey into chaos with its assassination attempts.

The EU Commission has repeatedly requested Turkey’s cooperation on effective measures to improve the precarious situation of the non-Muslim population.

Remembering the 1955 Pogrom on Christians

The marking on Christian buildings in Istanbul is a reminder of pogrom against Christian minorities in September 1955. Back then Christian buildings and shops had been marked by nationalist activists. The bloody riots with dozens of dead in Istanbul and Izmir were ostensibly triggered by the Cyprus conflict; however, the true reason was the search for scapegoats at a time of economic recession for Turkey.

A mob of fanatics burned down seventy-two Orthodox churches and more than thirty schools in Istanbul, defaced Christian cemeteries, and destroyed around 3,500 homes and more than 4,000 shops. The police watched the plundering and raping, not lifting a finger. Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk, who also writes about the Armenian genocide of 1915, describes the blind destruction in his memoirs.