The calculated disrespect of these Turkish students toward their own country’s history and its Christian heritage is a sign of the influence of the growing hostility toward the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Christian community in Turkey. These students should have heeded the Ecumenical Patriarch’s message of mutual respect and welcomed him to the area; instead, this unfortunate incident took place. The Order reiterates our hope that the international human rights community will direct its attention to the plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and of all Christians and other religious minorities in Turkey, and that the Turkish government will heed the repeated calls to grant full religious freedom to its embattled Christian minority.

“University students hang Turkish flag on ancient church to protest Bartholomew visit,” Ahval News, October 28, 2018:

A group of students from a university in Turkey’s northern province of Samsun hung the Turkish flag on ancient ancient [sic] church in protest of a visit by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew earlier this month, Armenian HyeTert news site reported.

Students from Samsun’s Ondokuz Mayıs University said Bartholomew’s Oct. 16 visit to the province’s Panayır Yeri Church, known to the locals as Sarı (yellow) Church, where he offered a prayer and lit candles, before posting a statement on his visit on social media, was a message to Turkey in re-establishing Pontus state in the region, in an apparent reference to the Pontic Kingdom was a Hellenized Persian state in northeastern Anatolia founded in 364–302 B.C.

‘’We heard that certain black-cloaked, dark-souled men masquerading as clergy arrived in our quaint town of Bafra to hold a religious ceremony… we are all too familiar with treacherous and spying patriarchs in this country, as we are with priests. We know of that doors of enmity that remain closed,’’ the group said in an official statement, adding that any dream of establishing a Pontus state in Black Sea would be met with resistance….