The forced Islamisation of Armenians was also genocide
by NAT da Polis
In addition to the mass slaughter of more than a million Armenians, the Young Turks regime islamised the orphans and women who survived the massacres. Several Turkish historians show that modern Turkey was founded on a "national-fascist" conception of the state, in which Turkish and Islamic were synonymous. The Armenian genocide was followed by a policy of eliminating other Christian minorities, including the Greek Orthodox. Modern Turkey, and Erdogan, do not know how to ask for forgiveness.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The President of the United States Barack Obama is set to deliver a speech on the anniversary of the mass slaughter of the Armenians, less than two weeks after Pope Francis condemned the Armenian genocide.

On 12 April, the Pontiff called on Turkey to acknowledge the historically documented event, and seek reconciliation and forgiveness. However, Turkey’s political elites – of every political hue – continue to deny the genocide. Yet, some in the country view the pope’s speech not as a sterile condemnation but as plea for forgiveness.

Influential among urban Turks, courageous scholars like Murat Belge, Kerem Oktem, Baskin Oran, T. Akcam, Fuat Dundar and others have characterised modern Turkey’s top-down model of nation-building as national-fascist in nature.

The post-genocide forced Islamisation of the Armenians who survived the massacres fits in with this modern notion of Turkey, a policy decision taken by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), a political grouping of mostly military officers that ruled the country at the time.

Such a decision laid the foundations of modern Turkey, a country purged of every non-Islamic element in order to create a homogenous population in which Turkish and Islamic were synonymous. Indeed, for Turkish historian Fuat Dundar, the policy of eliminating non-Muslims, is the basis of modern Turkey.

The massive and planned deportation of Armenians from their ancient homeland, which meant certain and systematic death for at least a million of them, was followed by policy of forced Islamisation of the surviving orphans and women. Even Armenian men tried to convert to avoid deportation.

Under the CUP regime, strict orders were given to place Armenian orphans in government institutions– orphanages and schools – in order to islamise them. This was especially true in Anatolia. Armenian women were instead forced to marry Muslim men in accordance with Sharia.

Sources indicate that Mehmed Talaat Pasha, a member of the CUP leadership, played a crucial role in the islamisation of Armenians.

However, with so many Armenians trying to convert, he ordered local authorities to check with the central government before accepting them, concerned that conversion might be due to opportunism.

In the end, Fuat Dundar noted that local authorities did pursue a policy of assimilation of Armenians via Islamisation. But they were not alone.

In an article based on Vatican sources, historian T. Kyriakidis cites an Austrian diplomat, Ernst von Kwiatovski, who was consul in the city of Samsum. In 1919, he told a Capuchin monk, Kyrillos Ioannis Zohrpian, that the massacres of Armenians would be followed by that of the Greeks. Subsequent history bore this out as Greek Orthodox suffered pogroms.

All this points to a long-standing feature in Turkish elites, one that continues today.

In a country with a traditionally authoritarian political culture, perhaps the insecurity that comes from not being a pure nation-state has prevented Turkey’s political elites from managing relations with minorities and ask for forgiveness.

Although from a different background, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shares the same mind-set.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The President of the United States Barack Obama is set to deliver a speech on the anniversary of the mass slaughter of the Armenians, less than two weeks after Pope Francis condemned the Armenian genocide.

On 12April, the Pontiff called on Turkey to acknowledge the historically documented event, and seek reconciliation and forgiveness. However, Turkey’s political elites – of every political hue – continue to deny the genocide. Yet, some in the country view the pope’s speech not as a sterile condemnation but as plea for forgiveness.

Influential among urban Turks, courageous scholars like Murat Belge, Kerem Oktem, Baskin Oran, T. Akcam, Fuat Dundar and others have characterised modern Turkey’s top-down model of nation-building as national-fascist in nature.

The post-genocide forced Islamisation of the Armenians who survived the massacres fits in with this modern notion of Turkey, a policy decision taken by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), a political grouping of mostly military officers that ruled the country at the time.

Such a decision laid the foundations of modern Turkey, a country purged of every non-Islamic element in order to create a homogenous population in which Turkish and Islamic were synonymous. Indeed, for Turkish historian Fuat Dundar, the policy of eliminating non-Muslims, is the basis of modern Turkey.

The massive and planned deportation of Armenians from their ancient homeland, which meant certain and systematic death for at least a million of them, was followed by policy of forced Islamisation of the surviving orphans and women. Even Armenian men tried to convert to avoid deportation.

Under the CUP regime, strict orders were given to place Armenian orphans in government institutions– orphanages and schools – in order to islamise them. This was especially true in Anatolia. Armenian women were instead forced to marry Muslim men in accordance with Sharia.

Sources indicate that Mehmed Talaat Pasha, a member of the CUP leadership, played a crucial role in the islamisation of Armenians.

However, with so many Armenians trying to convert, he ordered local authorities to check with the central government before accepting them, concerned that conversion might be due to opportunism.

In the end, Fuat Dundar noted that local authorities did pursue a policy of assimilation of Armenians via Islamisation. But they were not alone.

In an article based on Vatican sources, historian T. Kyriakidis cites an Austrian diplomat, Ernst von Kwiatovski, who was consul in the city of Samsum. In 1919, he told a Capuchin monk, Kyrillos Ioannis Zohrpian, that the massacres of Armenians would be followed by that of the Greeks. Subsequent history bore this out as Greek Orthodox suffered pogroms.

All this points to a long-standing feature in Turkish elites, one that continues today.

In a country with a traditionally authoritarian political culture, perhaps the insecurity that comes from not being a pure nation-state has prevented Turkey’s political elites from managing relations with minorities and ask for forgiveness.

Although from a different background, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shares the same mind-set.

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