07/04/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – The vandalization of the Sup Toros Armenian Church in Kayseri is the latest instance of targeted desecration of a historical Christian site that has been selectively ignored by the Turkish government. The minister of Turkey’s Culture and Tourism was confronted in parliament by Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the opposition demanding answers on the government’s lack of action.
According to Paylan, “although the church, which was built in the 19th century, it is one of the most important historical and cultural structures in the region, it has been abandoned for decades due to neglect and indifference, and nowadays it is again exposed to the attacks of vandals and treasure hunters.”
Yet the only official response has been at the provincial level, with officials claiming that the church cannot be restored due to its status as private property. Such an excuse is a typical response in these increasing incidents of Christian cultural erasure. Historical and cultural religious sites officially recognized as protected by UNESCO, are reduced to mere venues for tourism use by their private owners. One Turkish real estate advert for a 19th century Armenian church notes its versatility of use citing its ability to be “used as a hotel, museum or art gallery.”
For more information, see ICC’s joint report Turkey: Challenges Facing Christians 2016-2020.
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