Demonstrators on Friday held banners aloft and waved Turkish flags in a protest in front of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul's Fener district.
ISTANBUL - TDN with wire services
Turkish nationalists demonstrated on Friday outside the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul to protest its desire to use the title "ecumenical," which is not recognized by Turkey, witnesses said.
Waving Turkish flags and that of the extreme right-wing Nationalist Movement Party, about 150 protestors laid a black wreath at the door of the Patriarchate on the European side of the city bearing the words "Off to Greece with the Patriarchate."
"Patriarch! Do not lose your way, do not exhaust our patience," the demonstrators chanted amid a heavy police presence before dispersing peacefully.
The protest came a week after the head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartolomeos I, told a conference in Istanbul that Turkey was preventing him from using his "ecumenical" title, which denotes leadership of 250 million Orthodox worshippers around the world.
Ankara says its legislation does not allow the patriarch to use the title and treats him as the spiritual leader of only some 2,000 Orthodox Greeks in Turkey.
The Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, which dates from the Byzantine Empire, is a regular target of demonstrations by Turkish nationalist movements that accuse the institution of seeking an independent, Vatican-like status and international support to extract concessions from Ankara.