Cemeteries of religious minorities targeted in Turkey

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31/07/2022 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Radicals targeted another minority graveyard this month in Turkey. On July 15, a Jewish community discovered that their local cemetery in the Haskoy district of Istanbul had suffered severe damage. The vandals had desecrated 81 headstones, dug graves and left the site in disarray. The perpetrators of this attack appear to be children under the age of 18, although some believe they acted at the direction of adults. A local man said:Children don’t do such things. An elder may have directed them.Police have reportedly taken five children into custody as part of the investigation into the recent vandalism.

This recent incident is part of a larger trend of attacks on non-Muslim cemeteries in Turkey. David Vergili, a Syriac-Assyrian journalist specializing in Turkish minority issues, told the Jerusalem News Syndicate: “Over the past two months, the graves of Syriac and Jewish communities in Turkey have been attacked and destroyed. Tombs and holy places of the Armenian community have also seen similar attacks before.” He continued, “These attacks have racist and religious motives and mainly target groups that are not part of the Turkish-Islamic ideology.“The vandalism of a Jewish cemetery this month is obviously linked to a wider Turkish persecution against minorities, including Christians.

This month’s attack comes precisely on the heels of a similar incident against a Christian community in Turkey. On June 29, local Christians discovered that the perpetrators had desecrated their cemetery, which was dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul, just before an annual celebration dedicated to the two saints. The vandals knew that local Christians would gather at the cemetery chapel to celebrate the liturgical memory of St. Peter and St. Paul, and so they timed their attack to maximize their affront to the Christian community. The desecration of cemeteries like this, or like the Jewish cemetery vandalized this month, are symptoms of Turkish hatred against non-Muslims inside the country. As long as this hatred continues, cemeteries and other important sites will continue to be attacked.

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