Skip to comments.Clashes erupt at Turkey protest (over concessions to Orthodox Christians)
Posted on 09/06/2004 5:11:21 PM PDT by Destro
Last Updated: Monday, 6 September, 2004, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Clashes erupt at Turkey protest
Protesters burned an effigy of the patriarch
Police in Istanbul have clashed with Turkish right-wing demonstrators protesting against what they describe as concessions to Orthodox Christians.
Turkish media said the police used tear gas and batons to disperse hundreds of protesters marching towards the offices of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. Earlier on Sunday, the crowd burned his effigy and threw stones at police.
Some nationalists have been angered by the government's decision to allow the reopening of an Orthodox seminary.
The Istanbul seminary, closed by the Turkish authorities in 1971, trained generations of church leaders, including Bartholomew.
The BBC's James Ingham says reforms allowing more rights to Orthodox Christians are promoted by a government keen to show it is committed to a secular society as its possible membership of the European Union is being considered.
The EU's commissioner for enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, is beginning a four-day visit to Turkey, to assess whether the country is ready to start entry talks.
The EU has said it is keen to see wider religious freedom ahead of membership talks.
Christians are a minority in Turkey, but Istanbul remains the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch - who is considered to be the spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians.
But Nationalist leader Yuksel Kaleci said in a statement that Turkey "is making concession after concession to foreigners and especially to the Patriarchate".
The Patriarchate condemned the "violence" by demonstrators on Sunday. In a statement, it said the protests were the result of "the provocations of people intent on blocking Turkey's EU path".
ISTANBUL, Sept 5 (AFP) - Around 1,000 ultra-nationalist Turks protested outside the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Church here Sunday, Turkish media reported, accusing it of interfering in Turkey's political affairs.
The protesters, called out by the youth movement of the Party for Nationalist Action (MHP), hurled stones at riot police before being subdued by tear gas and truncheons.
Pictures showed the protesters burning an effigy of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, head of the northern Greek Orthodox church, and hanging him from a tree.
The Istanbul patriarchate, the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Church is the last vestige of the medieval Byzantine empire which modern Greeks still revere.
The patriarchate has been pressuring Ankara for years to reopen a century-old seminary on the island of Heybeliada (Halki in Greek) off Istanbul, which was closed in 1971 during Greek-Turk tensions over Cyprus.
The European Union, critical of Turkey for failing to ensure the religious freedoms of non-Muslim minorities, is closely watching how Ankara is handling the requests for the reopening of the school.
The United States also supports the school's reopening.
A spokesman for the protesters said that Turkey had given in to the European Union and the United States over the patriarchate.
The Turkish government, keen to increase its prospects for joining the EU, has made it clear in the last year that it is considering reopening the religious school.
Northern Greece's churches are run from Istanbul because the region was part of the Ottoman Empire before it fell to Greece in 1912.
Or perhaps Greece would like to re-establish its ancient sovereignty over Ionia, including Constantinople.
Islam is so tolerant isn't it?
Trukey is the nation Bush and other Islam appologists point to as the model for Islamic democracy. I think they need to point somehwere else.
Disclamer: I'm Greek Orthodox so my oppinion of Turkey considering their past treatment of Greeks is not "fair and balanced".
Middle Eastern Islam seems to be basically legions of stupid kids lead from the sidelines by manipulative old cowards. I hope this gives the EU pause.
While I would be pleased to see St Sophia's Church be the cathedral of my faith once more, I don't want to start a war with the Turks over it.
We are supposed to be civilized people and accept each other's faiths and respect each other's religius sites and freedoms.
Someone should remind the Turks that.
another turkish program of genocide brewing?
A civil war in Turkey would invite Balkin Christians to take the city back.
Actually the fact that these demonstrators can freely demonstrate proves that Turkey is a democratic regime.
Even in the US you'll see hundreds gather for events such as the KKK, Neo-Nazi's, and other ridiculous organizations. This doesn't mean we support these groups, but they are free to demonstrate, same goes for Turkey.
Back then, it wouldn't even have taken "support" from the West, just the removal of Great Britains' stupid interference with the Greek drive toward reclaiming Constantinople. Too bad Churchill was pro-Turkish at that moment in history, and messed up everything in the Middle East. GB's historical decline to irrelevance is only fair.
Does Turkey seem to be slowly sliding down into Islamic fundamentalism?
That is why the Turks went after their minorities in the start of the 20th century like the Greeks and Armenians. Because they could not be assimilated no so much so that they were Christians, IMHO.
Turkey is an artifical nation like Iraq. It is made up of dozens of nationalities. The only way Ataturk the modern founder of secular Turkey could for a state was to abolish all differences and force everyone to call themselves Turks and adopt the state religion of Islam. If they could not and would not they were seen as a threat to be removed. Turks inner fear is that one day Turkey will be broken up when Turks start asserting their true banned ethnicity and stop calling themselves the generic "Turk".
Burning effigies and protesting against Christians? Sounds like Democrats.
Religious authorities nearly always find a functional role in nationalistic movements, especially in the balkans and the middle east. This is true no matter what the religion.
Some heads of religion - namely the Greek orthodox and the Armenian orthodox played an active part in the planning and execution of numerous revolts during the 18th and 19th century, while enjoying the full protection of the Ottoman state. Other, sunni and shiite leaning bodies did similar deeds working for the Persians or Arabs.
The Muslim sects worked especially hard to bring about a fundamentalist regime in Turkey, during the aftermath of the first world war.
As a result, all independent Muslim religious sects were banned and all leadership of religion was brought under the umbrella of the law at the founding of the republic. As a result, the Christian leadership has been almost inexistent politically, as have the Muslim indepentent sects.
Yet, just like many here in the US still are under the influence of the truths and lies spread about the Turks during the four previous centuries and - as you can see in these posts - fear a return to (quasi) religious rule there, many nationalists in Turkey fear that the intrigue of the Orthodox denominations will return based on centuries of background.
And as you read in even these posts, there are those who openly announce their desire for the partition of Turkey. The result is that the good Patriarch must pay for the sins of others, lambasted by those who cannot know better, due to their own limitations.
>> Turkey is an artifical nation like Iraq. It is made up of dozens of nationalities.
Sounds like the USA?
You're one of the agitators, snickering in his dark corner.
you make me laugh.
I hope you don't think I was "lambasting..."
I know that we in the US tend to see everything through the lens of "religious freedom," not keeping in mind how politics, statecraft, and religion are intertwined.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that not only is Turkey a country, but there is a distinct "Turkic" or "Turkish" ethnic group as well as Turkic languages. People ethnically Turkish can be of different religions.
*Is* Islam the "state religion" of Turkey? I thought the state was supposed to be secular.
Not trying to start a flame war; just asking, because I don't know that much about it.