Police stop extremist protest at Patriarchate

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Police used pepper gas and batons yesterday against up to 1,000 Turkish ultra-nationalists protesting against Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, the Istanbul-based head of the world’s Orthodox Christians. Ultra-nationalists oppose allowing the Greek Orthodox Church to own land, and have been upset by reports the government wants to reopen an Orthodox seminary on the island of Halki near Istanbul, which Ankara closed in 1971. The demonstrators, chanting slogans and waving nationalist banners, hung an effigy of the patriarch on a tree and set it alight. Their protests were also aimed at the increasing number of foreigners buying property in Turkey. The demonstrators clashed with police after being prevented from marching on the church in the Phanar district of Istanbul, which also houses the Patriarchate. Turkish television said police detained a number of protesters.

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