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Death threat graffiti to Armenian Christians in Turkey?

5 March 2019

Vandals spray-painted the threatening words “you are finish” in English and Arabic on the outside of a church in Istanbul, Turkey on 23 February.

The menacing graffiti was scrawled on a door and wall, defacing the main entrance to Surp Hreshdagabet Armenian Church in the district of Balat. Church authorities have filed a criminal complaint with police.

 Daubing of graffiti on Surp Hreshdagabet Armenian Church wall in Istanbul

Armenian-born politician Garo Paylan, who represents Istanbul in Turkey’s parliament, described the vandalism as a “hate attack”. In a post on Twitter he said, “Hate attacks against churches and synagogues take place several times every year” and added, “hate generating politics must be terminated”.

It is not the first incident of vandalism against churches in Turkey. In April 2018, the words “this homeland is ours” were sprayed on the exterior wall of the Armenian Surp Takavor Church and rubbish was dumped at its door.

Some of the graffiti on the Armenian church building's entrance was covered over and the words obscured

The Armenian Genocide was perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish government against its Armenian subjects during World War One. Over 1.5 million Armenians are thought to have died – men, women and children – in a state sanctioned genocide that became the Ottoman authorities’ answer to the “Armenian question” in their quest to create a purely Turkish and Muslim state. Up to 1.5 million Greek and around 750,000 Assyrian Christians had also been massacred by around 1915.