Turkish police detained three suspects for dancing atop the walls of the St. Takavor Armenian Church In Istanbul, reports the Daily Sabah.
The footage shows two men dancing next to a stone cross atop the large courtyard gate of Surp Takavor Armenian Church in the city’s Kadıköy district. Istanbul Governorate identified two men as Y.E.U. and Ö.F.A. and a third suspect who accompanied them and said in a statement on Monday that all three were detained in their residences while an investigation is underway.
The suspects were part of a group of revelers who allegedly protested a ban on music after midnight, which was among the COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions imposed across the country. Further footage from the street where the church is located showed people dancing on the street, accompanied by loud music. A video shows a group stopping a tow truck passing by and climbing on it to dance.
Social media users expressed anger over the “desecration” of the church while officials condemned the offensive act. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu termed the act as “disrespectful.” Soylu tweeted that he contacted Arman Bükücüyan, director of the foundation that runs the church, and expressed his sadness over the incident.
HDP MP Garo Paylan said, “I condemn the people who acted irreverently at our church in Kadıköy and those who allowed this to happen. Turkey’s Ministry of Interior has to immediately launch an investigation against the police officers on duty on that spot where there are police officers all the time.”
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) also condemned the incident, Group Deputy Chairperson Numan Kurtulmuş said Monday. “Our civilization never tolerates insulting or mocking acts at places of worship,” Kurtulmuş said, adding that he strongly condemns the provocative and horrid act, as he said he has full faith in the Turkish legal system to do whatever is necessary.
Ömer Çelik, spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling AKP party and Fahrettin Altun, Turkish Presidential Communications Director also condemned the “disrespect towards Surp Takavor Church,” in Twitter posts on Monday.
On May 9 2020, a man was arrested for attempting to set fire to the door of St. Astvadzadzin Armenian Orthodox Church in Istanbul, and on May 23 a Turkish man removed a cross outside St. Grigor Lusavorich Armenian Orthodox Churches in Istanbul.
In 2018, the St. Takavor Armenian Church was the subject of another act of desecration, when racially offensive graffiti was sprayed on its wall by suspects who also dumped garbage in front of the building.