ISTANBUL — The Surp Astuanzazh Armenian Church in Istanbul’s Bakirköy neighborhood was daubed with hate speech on Tuesday as “1915, blessed year” was written on the side of the building in reference to the massacre of more than 1 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire during World War I, Today’s Zaman reports.
In addition to “1915, blessed year,” further graffiti on the church stated, “What does it matter if you are all Armenian when there is already one Ogün Samast.”
The message echoes a demonstration slogan that commemorated the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink who was assassinated in 2007 by then-17-year-old ultranationalist Samast. In the aftermath of the murder, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to show empathy for the slain journalist with signs reading “We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian.”
Today’s Zaman visited the site on Wednesday morning and found that the graffiti had been painted over. But an administrator at the church said, “This type of thing happens all the time.” The Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul refused to comment on the matter. No criminal complaint has been filed.
The incident comes hot on the heels of another racist slur against Armenians in Turkey. It was reported on Tuesday that Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek had filed a criminal complaint against Turkish-Armenian journalist Hayko Bagdat on defamation charges after Bagdat posted lighthearted tweets on his Twitter account referring to the mayor as an Armenian after the March 2014 local elections.
Gökçek appears to believe it an insult to be called an Armenian as his lawyer petitioned the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office, saying, “The statements [by Bagdat] are false and include insult and libel.”