American Hellenic Institute

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Attack on Christian Church in Istanbul



January 15, 1998 No. 02/98


On January 12, 1998 an attack was launched against the Church of Agios Therapon, located near the Church of St. Sofia, in Istanbul. During the course of the attack a 73-old sexton, Vasilis Hadiaropoulos, was murdered and his body dumped into a well. The church was also set on fire and religious objects looted. The perpetrators have not yet been identified.

The Greek government has protested to the Turkish government about this incident. It has further deplored the fact that the Istanbul city prefecture refused to receive the Greek Consul-General to discuss the incident.

This attack is a further example of the disregard with which the Turkish authorities approach their responsibilities for protecting religious minorities and sites in Turkey. In Cyprus the Turkish authorities have consistently turned a blind eye to the desecration of Christian churches and the theft of religious artifacts.

American Hellenic Institute General Counsel, Eugene T. Rossides, stated: "This is a very shocking incident. We express our sympathy with the family of Mr. Hadiaropoulos. We call on the Turkish authorities to mount a thorough investigation and to bring the perpetrators to justice. We also call upon the Administration to monitor the progress of the investigation, to ensure that its results are make public, and that those responsible are prosecuted according to the law."