Turkish police removes flags of foreign sports club emblazoned with crosses

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.