Turkish police in Istanbul removed the flags of football (soccer) fans sporting a symbol of cross. The football match between Mönchengladbach (Germany) and Basaksehir (Turkey) occurred on October 3rd as part of a Europa League match.
The flag of the German team was stylized as a coat of arms which includes a black cross on yellow background. The German team reported significant harassment by the authorities during their time in Turkey for their display of the Christian symbols which are common in their home city. It was estimated that approximately 1,200 fans from Mönchengladbach had traveled to Istanbul to witness the match. But the police refused to let many of them enter the stadium since their sport items contained symbols of the cross. As a result, photos show the stadium with large gaps of empty space.
Turkey has a long history of restricting Christian symbols in a public space. Just last month, in the city of Trabzon, Turkey had ruled that the architectural elements of houses which resemble crosses will not be tolerated. Other symbols of Christianity, such as churches, are regularly defaced by vandals. Although Turkey’s constitution promotes secularism, under the current government the country has increasingly become more Islamic.
Cross Symbols Destroyed in Trabzon
A local municipality in Trabzon (northern Turkey) has ruled that architectural elements of houses which resemble crosses will not be tolerated, according to local news sources.
This decision follows an investigation which opened last December following complaints that the balconies of certain villas in the village resembled crosses. Photos show that houses had two levels and a cross shape divided the houses into four quadrants. Multiple complaints from primarily local Arab families led the houses to be destroyed on the basis of their architecture incorporating the cross.
Outraged has circulated on social media, but the situation is not unusual. In other locations, such as Gaziantep and Ankara, buildings have been renovated so that the cross shaped architecture is no longer visible. The situation shows the extent to which any traces of Christian symbolism may be removed by communities. Although Turkey is technically a secular country, Islam remains the primary religion of its citizens.