Chairman of the Turkish Parliament's Human Rights Investigations Committee and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Istanbul Deputy Mustafa Yeneroğlu strongly condemned a recent attack on the Armenian Church of Surp Takavor located in Istanbul's Kadıköy district, saying that security forces will hold perpetrator(s) accountable for the crime.
In a message posted on his official Twitter account, Yeneroğlu said that Turkey will not be provoked by such indecent acts, as he expressed sympathy with the Armenian community. He also gave a message of unity, saying that "Turkey belongs to all of us."
#İstanbul Kadıköy'de bulunan Surp Takavor Ermeni Kilisesi'ne yönelik ırkçı saldırıyı şiddetle kınıyorum. Milletimiz bu aşağılık tahriklere gelmez. Emniyet güçlerimiz failleri en kısa zamanda bulacaktır. Ermeni cemaatine geçmiş olsun. Bu vatan hepimizin! pic.twitter.com/BQPPpw9m40— Mustafa Yeneroğlu (@myeneroglu) April 30, 2018
An unidentified attacker dumped garbage and wrote racially offensive graffiti on the church's wall, Turkish-Armenian daily Agos reported Monday.
The report noted that the church administration identified the attacker after checking security camera footage and said that the attacker had come to the church during the Sunday service and displayed "erratic" behavior.
The Municipality of Kadıköy also condemned the attack and said municipal workers immediately cleaned the area.
Police detained the suspect late Tuesday, identified as S.K., who authorities say had psychological health ailments and had previously tried twice to commit suicide.
The suspect hid on a rooftop and switched off his cell phone after the incident to avoid being caught.
Police said the suspect told them he committed the offense by himself, and said he was motivated to attack after feeling mistreated by the church's security personnel.
Since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power in 2002, Turkey has sought to restore the rights of religious minorities as well as the worship houses of faithful minorities, ranging from Assyrians to Jews and Greeks. Many properties have been returned to these minorities decades after they were forcefully confiscated by the Turkish state, while the government continues to pursue a policy of restoring abandoned historical buildings.