ISTANBUL (Combined Sources)–A photography exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of anti-Greek riots in Istanbul was taken down on Tuesday–after being vandalized. A group of men calling themselves the ‘Alliance for Turkish Struggle’ threw eggs and shouted insults the night before–protesting the 50th anniversary commemoration of the pogroms against Turkey’s Greek community.
The Istanbul Pogrom–also known as the Istanbul Riots–was directed at Istanbul’s 80,000-strong Greek minority on September 6-7–1955. It was orchestrated by the Demokrat Parti-government of Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes.
Over a period of nine hours–Istanbul’s Greek community came under sustained assault at the hands of an overwhelming Turkish mob–the most significant portion of which was trucked into the city for the event.
Between 13 and 16 Greeks and at least one Armenian (including two Orthodox clerics) died during or after the pogrom as a result of beatings and arson attacks.
Thirty-two Greeks were severely wounded. In addition–dozens of Greek men and women were raped–and a number of men were forcibly circumcised by the mob. The physical and material damage was considerable and over 4,348 Greek-owned businesses–110 hotels–27 pharmacies–23 schools–21 factories–and 73 churches–and over a thousand Greek-owned homes were badly damaged or destroyed.
Estimates on the economic cost of the damage vary from the 69.5 million Turkish lira quoted by the Turkish government–to the 150 million USD estimated by the World Council of Churches–and to the 500 million USD estimated by the Greek government.
The disturbances accelerated a process of emigration that was to lead to the virtual extinction of the Greek minority in Turkey. Numbering 200,000 in 1924–in 2005 the Greek community of Istanbul is estimated to number a mere 1,500 persons.