09/29/2021 United States (International Christian Concern) – In the early morning hours of September 23, a masked assailant armed with a bat destroyed the stained-glass windows at St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church in the greater Los Angeles area, according to a report from CBS Los Angeles. The attack came just days before the anniversary of Azerbaijan’s invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh) last year, which was supported by Turkey. Many fear that the ensuing war from last year and the taking of territory by Azerbaijan from Armenia has emboldened anti-Armenian hate crimes around the world.
This attack also falls into a pattern of increased attacks against the Armenian community in the United States. Last year, St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church in San Francisco was set ablaze when an unknown assailant lit two Molotov cocktails in the office of the church’s priest. Additionally, the nearby KZV Armenian School was defaced with anti-Armenian graffiti and shot at in a drive-by shooting in two separate occasions, also occurring in the second half of 2020 around the time of the invasion.
International Christian Concern (ICC) released a report shortly after the war depicting the religious freedom violations committed by Azerbaijan and Turkish-paid Syrian mercenaries entitled, Anatomy of Genocide: Karabakh’s Forty-Four Day War. During the war, not only did these militants commit war crimes against ethnic Armenian Christians, but they also underwent a campaign to erase the history of Christianity from the land through the destruction of churches and Christian symbols, a campaign that continues to this day.
ICC also sent two staff members to Artsakh earlier this year to meet with survivors of the war and investigate the reality on the ground in order to deliver humanitarian aid to families in need. Their findings, compiled into a report entitled, Nagorno-Karabakh, A Humanitarian Perspective, showed the devastation that Turkey and Azerbaijan undertook during the war to truly strike at the heart of Armenian culture and Christianity.
As long as Turkey and Azerbaijan continue to commit atrocities against Armenian Christians in Artsakh, it is reasonable to expect that radicals around the world will feel empowered to commit crimes against Armenians, such as the ones seen in California.