The Sun Rises in the West… and Other Turkish Tales

Keghart.com Team Editorial, 29 December 2011Erdogan

“Nero Defends Christians”—ancient Roman carving

“English Court Finds Joan of Arc Innocent”—Medieval parchment

“Stalin Shutters Gulags, Releases Prisoners”—KGB archives

The above fantasy headlines have a new and equally outrageous partner, courtesy of Turkey and Lebanon’s ‘The Future’ daily which a few weeks ago ran an article headlined “Turkish FM Davutoglu Organizing Conference to Protect Middle Eastern Christians.”
 

Keghart.com Team Editorial, 29 December 2011Erdogan

“Nero Defends Christians”—ancient Roman carving

“English Court Finds Joan of Arc Innocent”—Medieval parchment

“Stalin Shutters Gulags, Releases Prisoners”—KGB archives

The above fantasy headlines have a new and equally outrageous partner, courtesy of Turkey and Lebanon’s ‘The Future’ daily which a few weeks ago ran an article headlined “Turkish FM Davutoglu Organizing Conference to Protect Middle Eastern Christians.”
 

A few days later, Turkeys’ PM Raccep Erdogan, the blustering other half of the Turkish Dynamic Duo, sent a message to the Christians of Turkey in which the Bully of the Middle East said, “We have lived on this soil together by sharing a common destiny and history and displaying tolerance, respect and understanding for each [sic] other…the residents of Turkey continue to live together as equal citizens and in unity as well as being hand to hand.”

Breathtaking nerve, chutzpah, bald-faced hypocrisy, mind-boggling lies, Orwellian doublespeak… how does one describe the Erdogan-Davutoglu Perfidious Road Show? One mild response would be the Armenian saying: “If I had two stomachs, one of them would explode” upon reading the brazen falsehoods the Turkish leadership keeps laying on thick.

Chameleon Turkey, for centuries the nemesis of Christians in the Middle East and in Europe, has declared it’s now champion of Middle East Christians. Yes, Turkey will protect the Christians in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq–including the descendants of the Armenian Genocide victims–from the depredations of murderous Islamists. There you have it: The Crusader Republic of Turkey headed by a modern and compassionate Sultan Reccep Saladin.

Dwindling Christians of the Middle East, welcome to the delicate clutches of Turkey, a country which has made a career of playing both sides of the fence.

Some days it seems the Erdogan- Davutoglu are vying who could ape Pinocchio more convincingly. On Christmas Eve, Davutoglu stated that Ankara has a plan to change the “concept of diaspora… with anyone who migrated from Anatolia from whichever religion or sect they were.” This Turkish diaspora would include Alevis, Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and Jews. The foreign minister with the forked tongue added, “They are our diasporas… France and some colonialists had set riot between us in that era.” Yes, Armenians are the Turkish diaspora! Who knew? The parents or grandparents of Diaspora Armenians apparently “migrated” from Turkey, according to Davutoglu. Perhaps on a sunny day in 1915 hundreds of thousands Armenian women and children decided, to hold a picnic in the Syrian Desert. They grabbed a sandwich or two and headed south, on foot, to the green picnic grounds of the desert a thousand miles away. Why not? Why would such a picnic be less conceivable than the spins of the Spoiled Twins who run Turkey?

Let’s not hark back to the 500 years of Turkish oppression of Christians; let’s not talk about 1895, about the Adana Massacre in 1909 or the genocide of Armenians from 1915 to 1923; let’s not dwell on the Dersim massacres of the ‘30s, let’s not refer to the racist “wealth tax” Turkey imposed on Christians and Jews during the Second World War; and let’s not talk about the attacks on Greek and Armenian Istanbul properties in September 1955. Let’s take a breath and look at the recent human rights record of Turkey, the fabled and cliché “liberal and democratic Moslem nation… the bridge between East and West, which will guide ‘backward’ Arabs to modernity.”

–Six months ago one of Erdogan’s ministers said, “In order to create a Turkish nation we should clean our land from non-Turkish people. Otherwise how could we create a Turkish Nation?” No one reprimanded the remarkable truth-teller.

–A former Turkish PM said, “Those people who are not ethnically Turk can live in this country only by becoming slaves of Turks. Turkey belongs to the Turks and will always be so.”

–For decades ”Hurriet”—a leading Turkish daily– has emblazoned under its logo the quote: “Turkey belongs to Turks.” Citizens who are not Muslim are not real Turks.

–Last year John Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, wrote to the Foreign Office asking if they’d help Anglicans who found it difficult to worship in Turkey. “Please can they just worship in a hall?” pleaded Patten.

–The German government intervened with Turkey last year to promote a properly recognized German Roman Catholic priest to worship “at least in semi-public places.”

–Britain’s authoritative and right wing ‘Spectator’ magazine said in late 2011“religious cleansing [in Turkey] was incubated by creeping regulations against religious minorities.”

–Last year the Syriac Christian community of Turkey reported to the European Parliament on the unresolved murders of Syriacs going back to the ‘80s and the ‘90s.

–In Mardin’s Midyat district (near the Syrian border) there were 1,800 Syriacs in 1985. Last year there were 130. The Syriacs had emigrated because of official persecution. The 5th century Mor Gabriel Monastery (“Second Jerusalem” for Syriacs) in Midyat had a large tract of its lands illegally confiscated by Ankara. Once the bustling centre of the Syriac community, there are only 3,000 Syriacs left in the area. A few decades ago there were 250,000 Syriacs in Turkey. As a result of persecution and consequent exodus of biblical proportions, their number has whittled to 20,000. Many of the Syriacs who are still in Turkey are eager to leave.

–In its 2011 report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedoms said, “The Turkish Government continues to impose serious limitations on freedom of religion and belief, thereby threatening the continued vitality and survival of minority religious communities in Turkey.” This from Turkey’s number one ally.

–In a 2009 petition to Ankara, the Armenians of Turkey said, “Armenians face racism and discrimination…and acute anti-Armenian sentiments continue to survive in broad segments of this society.”

–In Dec. 2009, according to Father John Flynn of “Catholic Online,” three Muslims entered the Meryam Ana Church, a Syriac Orthodox church in Diyarbakir (Dikranagerd) and threatened Rev. Yusuf Akbulut to remove the church bells or they would kill him.

–In June 2010 Catholic Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar for Anatolia and a leading Middle Eastern church figure, was murdered in Iskenderun.

–In 2006 Father Andrea Santoro, a Catholic priest, and two ethnic Turkish Christians were murdered.

–The St. Paul Church in Tarsus (the saint’s birthplace) is shut by government order.

— Mr. Temper Tantrum Erdogan made a big production that he had restored Aghtamar (tellingly and insistently “Akdamar” in Turkish) Armenian Church near Van. The clever gesture was intended to convert the Armenian house of worship to a museum and to draw tourists. More importantly, it was a public relations gimmick to show to the European Union that there is no religious intolerance in Turkey. Incidentally, prayers are prohibited at Aghtamar and worshippers who try to pray are subject to police reprimand, if not arrest.

Even if Turkey returned every single standing Armenian church and convent, it would still be less than 10% of the number of Armenian holy sites that existed before 1915. And why can’t the buildings be returned? Because they don’t exist anymore. The Turkish government and many Turks have diligently destroyed these monuments or converted them to taverns, khans, stables and worse. Erdogan’s government calls abandoned Armenian holy sites as “disused sites,” without, mentioning why they are disused or where are the people who used them.

–Since its creation, the Turkish Republic has discriminated against the Alevi (Moslem) minority, considering them not true Moslems but half infidels.

–According to a British Turkey-watcher, the country has a “history of resolving issues of faith and identity through violence, not tolerance.” Turkey has a well-documented track record of violence and discrimination against minority faiths.

–In the past decade Hitler’s “Mein Kamph” and the notorious "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" have headed the list of Turkish bestsellers. Most Turks are dismissive of Nobel Prize winner and humanist novelist Orhan Pamuk.

–The virulently anti-Semitic TV serial “Valley of the Wolves” TV serial is the most popular TV production of the past decade. It’s so well regarded that Mrs. Erdogan praised it.

–Restrictive laws limit speech, prevent the teaching of minority languages in schools and to make sure Kurds don’t form a party Turkey demands that political parties secure a hefty 10% of the nationwide vote to gain a seat in parliament.

–“Anti-terrorist” laws are deployed to crack down on leftists, intellectuals, journalists and human rights activists and publishers, such as Ragip Zarakolu, who was arrested in November 2011, along with his wife (Ayse) and Busra Ersanli, a political science professor and an advisor to the Peace and Democracy Party.

–Thousands of Kurds are on trial for membership in the Turkish Assembly of the Union of Kurdistan Committee. They include human rights activists, Kurdish officials and mayors. The Kurds are incarcerated indefinitely as they wait for their trials “sometime in the future.”

–On Nov. 28 of last year 25 trade union officials in Turkey and members of a public sector workers’ union confederation were sentenced to six or more years in prison for legal union activities.

–Turkey has more journalists in jail than any other country. There’s little sign that change is coming in the democratic process, the rule of law. Erdogan and his minister of interior have repeatedly supported the arrests of journalists and activists.

–In December 2008 “CompassDirect News” published a report which revealed more than half of the population of Turkey opposes members of other religions of holding meetings and publishing materials to explain their faiths… almost 40% of the population said they had “very negative” or “negative” views of Christians. The news report said the hostility to Christians was because of “habitual disinformation and defamation in public discourse, media and school curricula.”

–There are no non-Muslim Turkish citizens who hold high government, military or political positions in their native country.

–The phrase “religious pluralism” is not part of the neighborhood bully Erdogan’s lexicon. The ruffian demeanor PM of Turkey’s modus operandi is throwing his weight around and hectoring defamation against those who dare disagree with him.

According to usually reliable sources, Turkey of the above litany of shame is still ruled by blustering Erdogan and his cunning cohort Davutoglu.

And now let’s hear it: “It’s a bullet, it’s a bird, it’s SuperErdogan flying to the rescue of Middle East Christians!”

 
8 comments
  1. An exceptionally well written

    An exceptionally well written Editorial.  I salute the editors of keghart for writing such a top-notch article.

    1. Well Written for a Prose

      Nercess,

      As far as I am concerned, this editorial is well written for a prose. However, as a reader what do I take having it read? If the editorial was meant to present the Turk to us the way we have known them over centuries of cohabiting with them on our ancestral lands, it may be superb. However, do we need the reminder over again?

      The stark reality is that Armenia, and hence Armenians as citizens of the country; Turkey and hence the Turks are neighbors who cannot ignore each other or come to a point to pretend the other does not exist and go on with their lives.

      Armenia as a state has its own realities to deal with when it comes to formulating bilateral relations with neighbors. We in the Diaspora have our own to deal with when it comes to the realities that have brought us far away from our ancesteral lands and on the verge of assimilating into our host coutnries. In spite of the fact that we are from one nation, it is apparent we we do not have a common ground to deal with Turks. Case in point is the signing of the Protocols and the vast differences in our perceptions of that historical event in Armenia and in Diaspora. ARF-D, the political party in Armenia that has the most base in the Diaspora had its ministers tend their resignation and has not joined the government since then.

      It would have been more productive if this editorial or future editorials lay the grounds for discussion to formulate our dealings with Turks having known them throughout the centuries.

      Vahe

      1. In response to Vahe

        Dear Vahe,

        Thanks for your well intended comment. In response I’d like to quote from  "In lieu of a mission statement" written on the occasion of the first anniversary of Keghart.com.

        "Non-Armenian individuals are partners in solving many problems that we face. To this end a conscious effort has been made to involve them. Keeping them informed is the first step. Over the course of the past year my greatest satisfaction has been to periodically provide information and selected essays to more than five-thousand non-Armenian Canadians in academia at major universities throughout Canada, along with various professionals and people of all walks of life."

        This particular editorial that you refer to deals with a matter that has recently evolved, namely Turkey pretending to be the saviour of Christians in the Middle East. Of course Armenians are not fooled by it, but there are many non-Armenians  who are following the news and are influenced by Turkish propaganda. Don’t you think they ought to be informed of the hypocrisy by enumerating all the events in the not so recent past to expose the lie?

        May I add that some of the editorials and essays that were published over the past four years had in mind the above mentioned non-Armenian readers of Keghart. Based on internal monitoring, as of boxing day of this year, within four days 1404 hits have been received from these readers of selected updates, including the present editorial.

        Respectfully,

        Dikran Abrahamian

        1. Exactly!

          I’m really glad that these pages are not solely for Armenians and being read by non-Armenians as well.  That makes sense and is a very good effort and initiative on behalf of keghart.com

          As Vahe said, we don’t need to "be reminded" about our own history, but we need to take steps to counter Turkish lies and false-propaganda by repeating historical facts.

           

  2. And now, one fact more: 35

    And now, one fact more: 35 civilian Kurds killed by Turkey. The vengeance announced by Erdogan (in Portuguese his name is "Merdogan"). How I said before:  seems to be name of a medicine. Certainly, a purgative…

  3. St. Erdogan

    There’s another reason for Middle Eastern Christians not to trust Erdogan/Davutoglu promises. A few weeks ago, when the US Congress was planning to demand from Turkey that it return church properties in Turkey to their rightful owners, Ankara fought the proposal tooth and nail. Turkey failed in its campaign. It would be hard for Christians in the Middle East, not to mention elsewhere, to believe Turkey is not playing games. I wouldn’t be surprised if anyday soon Ankara declares that it’s the protector of Kurds in Turkey.

    For decades, if not more, Turkey’s strategy has been consistent: promise but don’t deliver–with Cyprus, Greece, Armenia, the Kurds, the Alevis, the Syriacs. Now it seems Arabs have to be added to that list. How can Turkey get away with this double mask act is a mystery to me. Turkey is playing the same game with the US, Israel and Iran.

    1. A very good comment indeed.

      A very good comment indeed.  Turkey’s new slogan should be: "Promise and never deliver"

      Unfortunately, Arabs are naive enough to believe the Turkish lies and be victimized (again) in their ‘game’.

      As for US, Israel and Iran, they might be waiting for the right time to ‘teach Turkey a lesson’.  I think eventually what US/Israel did to the Arab leaders will also be done in Turkey.

  4. St. Erdogan II

    Another reason to distrust the Messrs. Erdogan and Davutoglu pledge to champion the Christians of the Middle East.

    If Erdogan and Davutoglu were genuine in their so-called compassion for the Christians of the Middle East they wouldn’t hold the Universal Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church as a virtual prisoner in Istanbul. Turkey, with a population of 70 million plus, sees the 6,000 or so of Istanbul Greeks as a threat when even Greece is no threat to Turkey.  Another thing: To show its good intentions toward Middle East Christians, Turkey could re-establish Hagia Sophia, now a museum, as a Greek church. Hagia Sophia means Holy Wisdom (God) in Greek. Erdavutoglu might be cunning, but they don’t have the wisdom to do the right thing.

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