The mother says “my son did not convert to Islam. We are Armenians and Christians.” The boy had been invited to a live TV event. The theologian Nihat Hatipoğlu, who led him to make the Islamic profession of faith, also changed his name. For the Armenian community, this is a genocidal act because it involves the forced conversion of a minor without the presence and permission of the parents.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – A 13-year-old Armenian boy was converted to Islam on live TV in Turkey. The case was the top news item in Turkish media. However, the boy’s parents plan to take the programme’s producers to court for tricking their child.
Last Saturday, on ATV television, theologian Nihat Hatipoğlu, rector of Gaziantep University of Science and Technology, introduced Arthur, a 13-year-old Armenian boy who "wanted" to convert to Islam.
In front of thousands of viewers, Arthur became a Muslim, following Hatipoğlu by repeating the Islamic profession of faith.
Soon after, Hatipoğlu asked him if he wanted to change his name, taking his name, Nihat. Hatipoğlu then said that Arthur/Nihat was a minor, his mother had been asked for authorisation.
In fact, the boy’s mother, Alina Y., told the website lurer.com that “my son did not convert to Islam. We are Armenians and Christians. If I had known, I would have been with my son.”
“Arthur is a naive 13-year-old boy. A Syrian friend of his told him: ‘Come, we’ll talk on live TV. They will give us toys, and we will eat with the stars.’ And my son went with him. He's a child, he made a mistake, but he did not convert nor was he circumcised."
The mother contacted Garo Paylan, a member of the Turkish parliament with the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), to explain that her son was invited to the programme without parental authorisation.
Paylan said he would file a child abuse complaint against the programme’s producers.
For the Armenian community, Hatipoğlu’s action violates the Lausanne Treaty since forced conversion represents a breach of its clauses on the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.
What is more, the conversion of children without the presence of their parents is tantamount to forced conversion, which falls within the definition of genocide.