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Turkish church attacked and desecrated

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A Turkish church in the same village where the parents of a Catholic Chaldean priest were abducted last year has been attacked and desecrated, according to a report.


Unidentified people destroyed crosses, pictures of Jesus and rosaries at Marta Shimoni Church, a cave church in the mountainous village of Mehre in Turkey’s southeastern Sırnak province, last Tuesday, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern reported.

Video footage ICC obtained shows that the destruction was primarily against the Christian items and relics inside the church, ICC said. The group explained that the church is “built into the mountains, and thus cannot be destroyed in the same way as other churches.”

Last January, suspected Kurdish militants kidnapped elderly Turkish Christians Hurmüz Diril and his wife, Şimuni Diril, from the same village. On March 20, Şimuni’s son found her dead and dismembered in a river. Hurmüz’s fate remains unknown, and the government has not found the killers.

The pair’s son, Fr. Adday Ramzi Diril, serves as a Catholic priest, ministering to thousands of Iraqi refugees who live in Turkey. A close relative of the Diril couple told ICC, “It is obvious that the people who did this are very uncomfortable with our presence on our lands and with our beliefs. This assault of our presence in the village is an indication that somebody is disturbed, and they do not want us here.”

The relative said the family suspects that the attack “was linked to the murder and disappearance of my parents.” The lawyer for the Diril family, Orhan Kemal Cengiz, also spoke to ICC about the attack on the church, saying the unsolved case of the Dirils might have emboldened the attackers.


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