Reflections of a Participant at the ‘Islamized Armenians’ Conference in Istanbul

“Islamized in 1915: History and Bearing Witness” panelists (left to right): Arda Melkonian, Doris Melkonian, Vahe Tachjian, Ronald Suny (chair), and Ishkhan Chiftjian.

BY DORIS K. MELKONIAN

Passing through the security gates of the historic Bogazici University, the former Robert College, I was struck by the beauty and serenity of the campus as we meandered through a drive paralleling the breathtaking Bosphorus on the right. The contrast of the bustling touristic Sultanahmet and Taksim districts to the tranquil campus was undeniable. While absorbing the beauty of my surroundings, I was reminded of my friend, Steve, a native of Istanbul, who described his student days here at the university with such passion. His love for this institution was evident in his voice as he instructed me to walk by the Bosphorus and “breathe in the air” for him. As I was following his explicit instructions, I was sadly reminded of other young Armenian men who attended this institution a century ago with hopes and dreams for a brighter future. Unlike my friend, Steve, their goals and dreams were never to be realized as the Genocide robbed them of a golden future. Their stories flooding my mind, created an inner conflict as I was forced to reconcile this dark past with the present-day beauty of magnificent stone buildings of Bogazici University.

A range of emotions colliding within me, I made my way through a courtyard teeming with Armenian and non-Armenian attendees, to encounter yet additional security checks and a metal detector, prior to entering Albert Long Hall where the conference was to take place. The hall, with remnants of years gone by, showcased a massive pipe organ that dominated one end and a choir loft, the other end.

The audience, exceeding 500, had assembled into this majestic hall. As I gazed at the sea of attendees, I was struck by how different the audience looked compared to United States audiences. What was immediately noticeable were women, young and middle-aged, with head coverings, quietly seated, listening attentively.

As speaker after speaker provided historical accounts, analyses, vignettes, and narratives of ordeals endured by survivors both during and after the Genocide, a sense of sorrow permeated the proceedings for me. My heart ached not only for the loss of precious Armenian lives during the Genocide but for the tragic fate endured by the fragment of the Armenian population who had been left behind.

In the diaspora, we mourn the 1.5 million who perished during the Genocide. We seldom remember the remnants of the Armenian community who couldn’t leave and were forced to assimilate. They experienced a different kind of death – a living death, suffering in silence and isolation. While presenting my paper, I remembered my maternal grandfather, Natan, who was taken into a Muslim household as a little boy. Had he not escaped, he would have suffered the same fate as many Islamized Armenians.

The conference concluded with grandchildren of Islamized Armenians describing the sting of rejection by the Armenian community, and their longing for acceptance. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I listened to their pain. Their grief and suffering, palpable with each uttered word, deeply resonated within me. My heart ached for these individuals who don’t belong to either community – Turkish Muslim nor Armenian Christian. I couldn’t help but grieve with them, as feelings of empathy for their suffering found root within me.

As Armenians – Christian Armenians, how should we respond? When an Islamized Armenian, in the halls of a Turkish university, publically exclaims “I am Armenian!”, what should our response be? Do we accept them into our midst, thus creating a mosaic of Armenians? As Christians, do we embrace them with the love of Christ? Or do we reject and abandon them?

At the conclusion of this historic conference, I left the tranquil campus consumed with inner turmoil, a different kind of turmoil from what I experienced initially, as I contemplated the challenges we will face as a community as we respond to this group of hybrid individuals. Today, on the eve of the Genocide centennial, the surfacing of Islamized Armenians is a reminder of the trauma that has impacted us, of the tremendous loss that we as a nation have endured, and of the challenges that lie before us.

I went to Istanbul with great anticipation to present my paper, to meet fellow scholars from around the world, to reunite with friends and make new ones.

However, I did not expect to be forced to confront my own uneasiness at the notion of a “Muslim Armenian.”

I did not expect to find myself mourning the pain of fellow human beings, fellow Armenians.

I did not expect to be moved so deeply, to find myself reaching out and hugging strangers who didn’t share my language, my religion, my culture, but who nonetheless considered themselves Armenians.

Having encountered Islamized Armenians and their stories, how can my response be anything other than compassion, acceptance, and love?

Authors

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44 Comments

  1. Norin Radd said:

    “However, I did not expect to be forced to confront my own uneasiness at the notion of a “Muslim Armenian.”…

    After nearly 2000 years of Christianity, being Christian is an indispensable part of Armenian identity, the ARF, ANCA, and Asbarez should stop attempting to muddle this fact with notions of “Muslim Armenians”. Remember all you Genocide survivors, your grandparents were slaughtered like helpless sheep by in large because they were Christians surrounded by a Muslim majority in 1915. After having undergone a physical Genocide, toying with ideas of the abomination known as “Muslim Armenians” you are setting up our current and future generations for spiritual Genocide as well. Also do not conveniently overlook the fact that all of these “Muslim Armenians” are in fact descendants of 1 ethnically Armenian grandparent that intermarried with a Kurd or Turk by force in order to survive and several generations of Kurd/Kurd, Kurd/Turk/, Turk/Turk marriages have solidified the singular Armenian ancestor’s lineage as either a Turk or Kurd. These “muslim Armenians” are at best individuals that are 1/8 or perhaps 1/16 Armenian by lineage and 7/8 or 15/16 Turks or Kurd by now. Stop trying to pass off every Tom, Rick, and Harry as Armenian just because he/she happens to have an Armenian grandparent that tragically was forced into intermarriage during the Genocide.

    “I did not expect to find myself mourning the pain of fellow human beings, fellow Armenians.”

    They are not “fellow Armenians” dear author, they are mostly Kurds or Turks that happen to have an Armenian grandparent that was forced into intermarriage with a Kurd of Turk. Please stop trying to blur the ethnic identity lines to push forward the Genocide recognition efforts of the ARF through such dangerous and ethnically compromising tactics. Many Armenian men, women, and children were killed or committed suicide in 1915 for the sake of their faith and today you are tarnishing the memory of their tragic deaths by your grandiose ideas of calling a bunch of eight-breed and sixteenth-breed Kurds and Turks “fellow Muslim Armenians”.

    “I did not expect to be moved so deeply, to find myself reaching out and hugging strangers who didn’t share my language, my religion, my culture, but who nonetheless considered themselves Armenians.”

    Instead you should have taken a Xanax to steady your emotionally unstable outburst and instead been more steadfast in respecting your own ethnic identity and its definite boundaries. Being Armenian is being part of a distinct ethnic group of people. To state that someone who does not speak our language, is not of our religion, does not practice our culture, and comes from Kurdish or Turkish parents is to be considered an Armenian is an insult to the 1.5 million martyrs that perished during the Genocide in order to preserve that very same language, culture, religious belief, and ethnic genetic lineage. Please stop spitting in the face of our dead ancestors and the 10 million Armenians worldwide with this nonsense. Enough is enough.

    “Having encountered Islamized Armenians and their stories, how can my response be anything other than compassion, acceptance, and love?”

    You did not encounter “islamized Armenians”, you encountered Turks or Kurds that happened to have a grandparent that was forced to marry a Kurdish man or Turkish man or face being raped by a dozen Turkish/Kurdish gendarmes wearing a fez.

    Shame on you Asbarez for writing this article. This is an act of desperation on the eve of the AG 100th year, truly you have established a new low.

    • Sergey said:

      Recently I did a trip of Western Armenia, I had heard much about Hamshen Armenians so I wanted to experiance myself these Armenians who by all accounts are 100% pure blood Armenians and speak a dialect of Armenian that was spoken over 500 years ago.
      I was fortunate to spend a few days with Muslim Hamshen Armenians who still cling to their identity and still speak a dialect of Western Armenia…

      So dear Norrin Radd, how would you classify these pure Muslim Armenians who till now refuse to marry Turks in the villages?

      It is a difficult question for the Hamshen Armenians, because still they are called Ermeni by the Turks and the Christian Armenians like you still call them davajan..

    • Sarkis said:

      Norin Radd’s comments are always well thought out and stated, even if they come off as harsh to the “sensitive” Armenians. Norin is correct, Armenianness is a racial, genetic and cultural identity. If we start breaking down the barriers which have kept us from assimilating and disappearing in the past, we risk destroying what we have left of our nation.

      It is very sad and unfortunate, but the lie that “race does not exist” or that “race is just a choice and social construct” that is currently destroying the west is also prevalent among Armenians in the west. They would have us believe that these 7/8 turks and kurds are somehow entitled to the same rights as the rest of the Armenian nation and Republic. These are the people who would claim that the black-skinned Ethiopians who have one Armenian grandparent are as Armenian as the rest of us. This is an extremely dangerous idea which need to be rooted out. As Njteh taught, our race, genes and culture are sacred, and their integrity must be defended at all costs.

      I understand that some people may think that deluding ourselves into believing that these people are Armenians somehow undoes some of the effects of the Armenian Genocide, but that is a false idea that we cannot take refuge in.

      • Daron said:

        Dear Sarkis,

        You cannot be more racist. Please, before quoting Karekin Njteh, study his works and try to grasp the spirit of it.

        • Sarkis said:

          Comrade Daron (I call you comrade because you are obviously a social marxist), in case you do not know, the great Njteh was a NATIONAL SOCIALIST, and the most dedicated Armenian Nationalist in recent history. Please don’t throw that neo-bolshevist “racism” crap at me. Pretending race does not exists is a less violent path to genocide.

        • Sarkis said:

          And yes, race is the most important thing in the world. Without race, there is no culture, there is no nation, there is no future. So I am damn proud to discriminate heavily in favor of my own race, of my own heritage, of my own culture, of my own blood, of my own people, of my genes, of my own heritage.

          Ethnocentricism, or “racism” as you dericiviely call it, is the key to the success of the Jews, the community Armenians keep trying to emulate.They’ve had “tseghakron” for themselves for millenniums, yet they’ve managed to sell you raceless marxism.

      • Serj said:

        I have met several half Ethiopian Armenians with black skin and their command of the Armenian language was as good as any Armenian., and far superior of those Diaspora Armenians whose command of language is nil. Go to any Armenian church in the USA do you hear Armenian from 2 nd or 3 rd generation Armenians?

    • Daron said:

      To Norin Rad,
      “After nearly 2000 years of Christianity, being Christian is an indispensable part of Armenian identity, the ARF, ANCA, and Asbarez should stop attempting to muddle this fact with notions of “Muslim Armenians”. Remember all you Genocide survivors, your grandparents were slaughtered like helpless sheep by in large because they were Christians surrounded by a Muslim majority in 1915”
      Actually 1700 years of forced non Armenian faith, a religion that is not indigenous to the land and to our culture. It’s interesting that you are preaching “azkasiroutyoun” and you are ignorant of the dark pages of our history. You are not aware of the massacres that were committed by the Armenian Church to our ancestors starting 301 and ending 1200 C.E. Also, your ignorance is to a point that you are calling ARF to stop embracing Islamized Armenians. Of course, you are not aware of ARF ideology, ARF is a secular and progressive organization, so go and bark to another tree.
      “Christianity is an indispensable part of Armenian identity.” Really, I’m not Christian, and who authorized you to come up with this kind of statement. Do we need to get yours or Churches approval to be considered Armenian?
      People like are “keyboard warriors”, nothing more. When the sh.t hits the fan you run and hide in your favorite church. I’m sure you take pride in being the first nation becoming Christian, and as a reward we got slaughtered and your favorite God didn’t bother to save our ancestors.
      I tell you what, keep your faith to yourself. If you are truly Azkaser, stop creating divisions among our nation .

      • Hratch said:

        To Daron:

        Although you have a point to a certain extent, you’re still overlooking the fact that these people are Muslim in faith. By teaching, it is a more aggressive religion than the others. Their history is also drenched in blood and violence, Therefore, you also need to go and tell them that it’s not permissible for them to bring in their faith when embracing the Armenians. In other words, what are you going to do if they decide to proselytize their beliefs? Is it okay for them to create divisions? Or are you just going to sit around and let things get more complicated and diluted….I suggest you start working on an argument now. You need to either have a balanced approach, or set the rules up front.

        • Daron said:

          Hratch
          My argument is not in support of Islam, or any other religion for that matter. The topic was, should we accept them as Armenians. The idea of Armenian=Christian, was fabricated in the fifth century by sahag gatoghigos and mesrob mashdots. When Christian religion was introduced and forced upon the indigenous Armenians, the people rejected it because they considered it foreign. In pre-Christian Armenian tradition, there was no division between faith and nationalism. We had a distinct faith or religion that reflected our heritage and our national symbols. The new religion was trying to force itself and compete simultaneously with the belief system of the land.
          So, the unison idea of faith/national identity that has been promoted by our Christian brethren is not genuine. If we truly aspire to unify our faith and national identity, we need to revive our ancient traditional values. One way of doing that, is to educate our young generation our untainted history instead of teaching them about Old and New testaments which has nothing to do with our national identity.
          My answer in this situation is, to promote Armenian identity instead or asking them to convert into Judeo based religion. Armenian identity should supersede any religion, or ideology. What I mean by Armenian identity Is, protecting, preserving, practicing and promoting our culture, heritage, history, language and tradition. As a small nation, we cannot afford to create divisions among ourselves.

      • Sarkis said:

        I’m glad you posted anti-Christian comments as well, it demonstrates a point: western globalist ultraliberalism today preaches atheism, racelessness and race-mixing, multiculturalism, feminism, homosexuality, historical revisionism pretending that Armenian, and European culture in general, is supposedly not original, innovative or in any way greater than Asian or African culture.

        Given a choice between Christianity and traditional Armenian culture versus atheism and globalism, I’ll gladly take the former…. Let’s see how much longer Europe and America can stagger on before they collapse under the strain of their ultraliberal beliefs.

        • Daron said:

          Dear Sarkis,
          In my opinion, Njteh’s message goes beyond any ideology and religion. We as a nation do not need to borrow any belief system, we had our own belief system that was very much Armenian. It reflected or I should say reflects our essence as a nation that existed more than ten thousand years.
          We had a rich culture, history, mythology, technology, philosophy that was unique to our nation. We were one of the advanced people in the ancient history. Today, there are Armenian archeologists/specialists proving, that ancient tablets that are found in Historical Armenia written in Cuneiform can be read in Armenian language. There are experts that are tracing the migration of ancient Armenian heritage to Central Asia and as far as India and Americas. Our alphabet is much older than what is claimed by the Armenian church. So the idea of our alphabet was handed down by the holy spirit to mashdots around fifth century, can mean one thing, that we as a nation did not have culture before descent of Christian holy spirit upon mashdots. To a nationalist person like you this must be insulting.

          You mention “historical revisionism pretending that Armenian”, I agree with you. There are overt and covert attempts to revise our history, and it’s been done systematically. But let’s not forget, that the revisionism started with the Armenian church. There are many proofs indicating that.
          The destruction of our heritage was initiated by a non-Armenian, “krikor lousavorich.” First planned attempts to annihilate our leadership and our intellectual class were carried out by krikor, not the turks. I’m sure you are aware of the massacre at Mehian that was designated to ancient Armenian God Tir.
          Armenian people resisted the invasion of foreign belief system, Christianity, because we had our own system which reflected us as a nation. On the other hand, Christianity was and is a Judaic based belief system. Nerces Shnorhali composed the sharagan “Aravod Louso Arecagn Artar,” trying to please Arorties who were resisting the new religion.
          Returning to your argument Sarkis, “Ethnocentricism, or “racism” as you dericiviely call it, is the key to the success of the Jews,” Dear friend, Ethnocentricism and racism are not the same, I’m sure you know that. Second, your reference for the Jews, Jewish people do not come from a single “race” or from a single gene pool. Some research about kingdom of Khazaria will tell you a different story. But there is a component in Jewish culture to which I think you are referring to and I agree with you, identification with your culture, tradition, history, heritage and everything else that make us Armenian. And this is where Njteh’s philosophy comes in, we do not need to worship foreign gods, harbor ideologies that destabilize our national security, we as a nation do possess everything that is needed to be a proud nation.
          “I’m glad you posted anti-Christian comments as well, it demonstrates a point: western globalist ultraliberalism today preaches atheism, racelessness and race-mixing, multiculturalism, feminism, homosexuality, historical revisionism pretending that Armenian, and European culture in general, is supposedly not original, innovative or in any way greater than Asian or African culture.” Your comment is full of flaws.
          a) By mentioning the historical deeds of Armenian Orthodox church and their consequences upon our people you do not become anti-Christian
          b) By not agreeing with Christianity does not make one atheist. It’s ironic that you claim to be a staunch Njtehagan but you try to turn a blind eye to the atrocities that were committed by the church against our nation
          c) By your logic, myself criticizing the church demonstrates me being globalist, liberal, atheist… Based on your argument, being a Christian is a required condition to be able to fight globalism. Also, according to your narrow vision, there are no atheists or agnostics who are anti-globalist.
          d) You should know Western culture is European culture. So, globalization, liberalism, atheism… are all European concepts, not African or Asian.
          e) You are suggesting superiority of European culture over Asian and African. Your favorite European countries: Germany, according to recent studies was indirectly involved in our Genocide. France and Great Brittan used us as bargaining chip against kemalist government.
          f) What makes atheist bad people and theist good people? When defending theism, do you have any specific god in mind? And what are the good attributes of your omniscience god?
          g) According to you, being anti-Christian demonstrate being western globalist, ultraliberal, atheist… and to put all in one basket and labeling it anti-Christian shows your vast mental capacity.

          Sarkis, all the crap that you came up with addressing me as Marxist, Bolshevik, globalist and other craps, has no relevance at all. Also, I’m sure you are a proud nationalist, have you ever considered changing your name, since it’s not Armenian.

          • Sarkis said:

            You’re last sentence really cracked me up. What kind of garbage anti-Armenianism are you trying to push here. How desparate can you get in trying to “deconstruct” Armenian identity. Sarkis is as Armenian as it gets. Next you’ll be telling me that “Irevan” and “Dagliq Karabax” aren’t really Armenian either, they belong to Caucasian Albania… While were at it, let’s turn over the riches and legacy of the Armenian Church and the Arshakuni dynasty to Iran, after all the Parthians played a large role historically there, and they are not really Armenians either.

            You keyboard Armenian warriors and pseudo-intellectuals from the Armenian Diaspora would be the biggest threat to Armenia, if the citizenry and government of the Republic of Armenia had not long ago learned to disregard you.

            You go on fighting the good fight against Gregory the Illuminator, Comrade Daron. Carry on the fight that Comrade Nina Garsoian (the head falsifier of Armenian History in the west until she croaked) could not finish. I’m sure you’ll succeed in making Armenians see the light that the Armenian Church, and names like Sarkis, are totally non-Armenian but that citizens of Turkey who are 7/8th Turkish and Kurdish, and 1/8th Armenian are as Armenian as Apricots and Duduks….. Or are apricots and duduks also a foreign conspiracy thrust upon our noble nation?

          • Daron said:

            I know, truth always hurts. Just change your name brother, and get over it.
            To educate yourself about “krikor the illuminator,” read the book by Hovig Nersesyan’s ” Hin Asvadsner.” Once you are done reading that, there are more to read and educate yourself. But before doing that, please, take care of your name.

          • Daron said:

            Now, a person with non-Armenian name, makes a statement as such: “You keyboard Armenian warriors and pseudo-intellectuals from the Armenian Diaspora would be the biggest threat to Armenia, if the citizenry and government of the Republic of Armenia had not long ago learned to disregard you.” This type of statements reminds me of Turkish attempts and more specifically davoud oghlou’s argument to create divisions among Republic of Armenia and the Diaspora. In case you aren’t aware of the Turkish argument that says, “ People of Republic of Armenia are the good Armenians, the Diaspora Armenians are the bad ones.” Dear Sarkis, you are parroting and promoting the exact Turkish argument, and pretending to be Azkaser.

          • Sarkis said:

            Looking at the “revolutionary” Armenians in the diaspora calling for the destruction of the Armenian government, promoting a deconstruction of Armenian genetics, identity and culture and opening up the title of Armenian to any turk or kurd with one of eight grandparents having an Armenian identity, looking at keyboard warriors such as yourself and scumbags like ara manoogian and his accomplices at Washington-based and Washington-funded Policy Forum Armenia, looking at the calls for chaos and revolution coming from the likes of seto boyadzian of the ANCA, looking at the hate-filled dribble all over the pages of the Diasporan media outlets, looking at the destruction of western-born and western-educated agents such as vartan oskanian, salpi ghazarian, raffi hovannisian, richard giragosian, jon hughes, and a ton of others all working to weaken and destroy the Armenian government… Well it just becomes difficult to separate the destructive agendas of these “Armenians” from the agenda of the turks. Of course not every diasporan Armenian is corrupt, nor is every native of Armenia perfect, but I’ll repeat once again that you keyboard revolutionaries ready to destroy the Armenian identity by de-racializng Armenianness and opening it up to muslims would be the death of Armenia.

            But again, I’m not too worried. There is almost zero tolerance for such western insanity and racelessness and globalism in Armenia.

            As for your ad hominems, it only confirms that your rhetorical and intellectual capabilities failed to provide you with any remotely plausible defenses to my exposition of the flaws in your argument. You began by calling me a “racist” and you finish by telling me to change my name because it is “not Armenian”. Well played. I only wish you could share such brilliant assertions in front of live audiences in Armenia.

          • Daron said:

            This might sound familiar to you Sarkis, he shares your perspectives on the Armenian Diaspora:
            “Commenting on the next attempt of the Armenian diaspora to push the resolution recognizing the independence of the separatist regime of Nagorno-Karabakh to the California State Legislature, Mammadov said that the Armenian diaspora in the United States has its own program of action, which for many years has been directly harming Armenia.

            “Yes , Armenians of the States are U.S. citizens, and they can remain indifferent to Armenia, but their every move in the direction of recognizing the so –called “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” and the recognizing the so-called “Armenian genocide” has a very negative impact on the existence of the Armenian state.”
            http://news.az/articles/politics/85661

          • Daron said:

            Sarkis, apparently you do not read my posts. By now you should have deduced that I do agree on most of your viewpoints, except when you interject faith as a precondition to Armenianess. And by faith, I mean any faith that is not indigenous to Armenian Highland. I do agree that the media in Diaspora is mostly unfair towards Armenia, and on top of that list is Asbarez. All the names that you mentioned in your last post (Hovannesian, Ghazarosian, Voskanian…) have agendas in my opinion that go against National Interests of Armenian Nation, including Levon Ter Bedrosian who is not from the Diaspora. I’m glad that you mentioned the “revolutionary” Armenians in the diaspora,” who were heavily active in the “activism” of shipping bullhorns and tents to Armenia, calling derogatory names to the President of Armenia, seeking glory by posting on Facebook their “revolutionary acts” in Armenia. I am hoping that this is just a phase in the reality of today’s Diaspora, and our youth will eventually develop political mind/awareness. A person like you is aware, that most of the Diasporan Armenians without discriminating their place of origin have “follower’s” mentality. They consume news and digest it without questioning the motives and the intent of that particular information. That might serve a purpose in terms of leverage in the geopolitical arena. To keep it short, to safeguard the survival of Armenian Republic, Russia also needs to be checked and balanced; otherwise, Armenia would become yet another Russian State. So I suggest, instead of constantly bashing Diaspora and vice versa, we need to educate our new generation and guide them towards the realization that, their national identity goes beyond 301 C.E. and the roots of our identity is firmly planted in the Armenian Highland.

          • Sarkis said:

            See posts like this are why I do not bother reading through your posts. The term “low blow” is not enough to describe your cheap attempt to put me in the same class as the azeris who claim that “Artsakh’s independence is a project only supported in the Armenian Diaspora and not in the Republic of Armenia”. My criticism of the Armenian Diaspora is when the push anti-Armenian, anti-Russian, pro-nato/eu/israel/turkey policies as you described below.

    • Steve said:

      Norin Radd,

      What if that 99% or 99.5% Turk or Kurd (as you refer to them) WANTS to be accepted as an Armenian or is reaching out to our community. Would you still reject them as an outcast? Just curious …….

  2. Hratch said:

    Muslim Armenians were forced to convert and had no choice, where as Catholic Armenians converted by choice. They abandoned the Armenian Apostolic Church and its Catholicos and started worshiping the Pope and its Universal Church.

    If we were able to live with the latter, then the former is a moot subject.

  3. Shahe Mankerian said:

    This was a very moving piece, Doris. Your conflicted heart has given voice to all of our inner turmoil.

  4. Serj Bulanikian said:

    Simply saying ” I am Armenian” does not cut. Our traditions are based on Christianity. Our whole life is governed by these Chritian traditions. Thus,
    If a Islamized Armenian does not renounce his forced conversion to Islam and accept his/her real faith, he /she can not be considered Armenian. We all know that our traditions can not be reconsiled with Islam for the simple reason that Islam requires strict adherance to is tenents.

    Does one like to be called Armenian ? Then, accept Christianity. Do not say I am Armenian but Muslim., it is a none starter in my personal view

  5. Garen Yegparian said:

    I haven’t even read the article itself yet, but Norin Radd’s and Serj Bulanikian’s comments cannot go unanswered.

    The mindset/approach they advocate and defend contributed mightily to our present plight. On the eve of the Genocide, part of the reason we were so numerically weakened in our own homeland was exactly this kind of thinking on the part of the church, which, in Ottoman times, was our “government”. “if you’re not Christian, you can’t be Amenian” led to those people become Kurds and Turks. If, in the context of the times, thatw as undrestandable, it is NOT even conscionable today.

    Applying analogous logic to what we did to ourselves 1700 years ago, i.e. ravaging the entirety of our Armenianness as then defined, we would end up with the ridiculous result that no Armenians would exist today!

    So, everyone who’s hung up on the Christianity angle, get over it, these folks, and many more beyond them, ARE our brethren. They ARE, very emhatically, Armenians if they say they are. Why should we cede them to the Turks?

    • Serj Bulanikian said:

      Before critisizing my point it would be very enlightening to know what “islam” means. Having lived among them as an Armenian for more that 30 years I know what islam is. As I said their tenents are diametrically opposed to Armenian beliefs, then how can you accept among us when they refuse to change, how do you make them Armanian?

      Known California painter Kero Antoyan tried to bring his islamized family into our fold. They refused saying ” biz gavur olmayiz” meaning we will not become gavurs….This happened 45 years ago…Has anything changed? With few exceptions which is fueling this discussion.

  6. Vatche said:

    Too much exclusiveness leads to diminished numbers and weakness. The A.G. might have its roots in such attitudes.
    While an inclusive mentality reenforces our ranks, and opens our minds to universality and success..

  7. Minas said:

    First you must accept and embrace then you can re-convert. I could not imagine an Armenian that is not Christian but yet here we are, there are many in Turkey that secretly help our cause. The Armenia Church must take the lead if possible.

  8. GB said:

    Yes, if we did not keep our church and faith today we wouldn’t have little left over land called Armenia ..if you look all surrounding mighty Empires of Armenia such as Persians were Zoroastrians, Byzantine were Orthodox Christian, Azerbaijanis were Albanian and Aghvan Christians and might Assyrians.. never mind to mention…gone long time ago..

    I agree with Norin, with concept of Christianity in a volatile region like Caucasus, and in the meanwhile I disagree with him, that we should ignore our Islamized Armenians…most of them are Christians by heart and Armenia needs them all, politically, economically, and morally, without losing, or giving up our sacred Christian faith!!

    • Movses Hovsepian said:

      The Assyrians are actually still in their homelands of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey. There are around 2 million worldwide and around 4,000 Assyrians that live in Armenia.

  9. karakeuz said:

    Islamized Armenians is a neologism and oxymoronic. If you are islamized you ceased to be Armenian. If one follows this trend we soon will have a category of universalists armenians. Are we entering a phase in our history where racial amnesia is stting in ? If we start doubting our roots and identity , we are well on our way out of the pages of history. We armenians did not survive on account of islamized or universalists armenians . Islamized Armenians are either Turks or Kurdsm , a droplet of Armenian blood diluted by endless interacial crossing is not a warranty of being Armenian. I do not feel nothing for these so called islamized arm. nor do a Ifeel a kinship. I do however feel the horror and angst for the Armenian that was forced to endure islamization and conversion. The primary source is dead, and has to be mourned with the genocide. Nothing will be gained with this pseudo intelectual-cum biological brain teasers. Another point is that of ythe Hamshen, who are these Hamshen ?; what do they consider themselves ? . When travelling in eastern turkey I encountered many of them. None of those I met mentioned anyhting about being armenian. Ask the Hamshen what they feel and what they consider themselves. If they consider themselves muslims, do not waste energy on them unless you have a mass enrapture of these Hamshen toward our identity religion.; something which can not happen with these hyphenated turks. Has anybody taken a census of these so called islamized armenians ? We are begining to halluciante that their numbers are such they can provide a critical mass with which to change our demographics. I have encountered and done research with many Armenian of mixed parents ( persian, Greek,French, German etc). Ineluctably in 100 percent of the cases in my studies, the individuals expressed to be a German, French etc, albeit of ” my mother or my father is armenian” but I am Greek. Our Armenian diggers should shift and refocussed their attention in attempting to rescue the 50% armenians in Europe and the USA, who are far more numerous , than the 00% quartile of so called islamized armenians in Turkey.

  10. Haygazian Nevart said:

    We have been Armenians also before christianity. We wre polytheist Armenians, than became Christian Armenians, what about thw atheist communist Armenians? did we ever considered them non Armenians just because not Christians? We sould stop to be biggots to thi spoint in a world where religion is jut a personnel issue not a naional interrest, Yes the moslem Armenians are Armenians even more Armenians than othes for whom being Armenian in the diaspora was easy. They in order to remain Armenians have changed their religion becauuse they were living in a biggot society where not being moslem meant death. Let us show some respect to those Highly appreciated islamized Armenians!

  11. Steve said:

    If a “Muslim Armenian” is willing to spill blood in Artsakh or Armenian proper he is AN ARMENIAN TO ME and all these ignorant comments are non-biding. Christianity does not make or break your “Armenianess”. There are plenty of Christians that were watching Armenian Teletime from their comfortable living rooms in Glendale while hidden muslim armenians from Turkey or Abkhazia as well as our Kurdish brothers from Armenia proper fought during the liberation of Arstakh. Tigran the Mets was not Christian either but he is arguably the most revered Armenian in history. Think about that.

  12. Haygazian Nevart said:

    To all those who sill insit that the Genocide took place becaue we wre chritians i invite them to undersand we have been annihilated because we are Armenians it is a Geno cide , not a Religio cide.please go and read Talaat Telgrams espesially that one that oredrs that even the islamiized Armenians should be deported and have the same fate. Were the Kurds Christias that Turkey stated also a stillicde aginst them from 1917 onward? Even Germany took part in perpetrating the 1915 Genocide do you think because we were christians? Come on… the CUP whose majority were not moslems,took levarage on religion to incite the biggot population yes..but to eradicate Armenians, it was an ethnic cleasenning of non turkish population and the biggst ever State official Rubbery in History.. If the Armnians at that time dd not listen to the church and espescially tothe Patriarch of Constantinople that asked the Armenians to obbey and do not uprise, for sure the Armenians would not have been slaughterred like sheeps and everwhere the would have defend themselves as they did in Van nd Musa Dagh,g o and ask the survivors of Zeitun how they hated the patriarch in 1915! Yes if weer not christians and obbey to the church in not acting a uprising i am sure the Genocide would have failed.In that yes i agree they died because they were christians.

  13. Harutik said:

    To address the topic of Christianity and Muslim Armenians:

    Regardless of how Christianity was started and spread in Armenia, Christianity today is an integral part of Armenian culture and identity. Attacks against Christianity today will only weaken Armenians/Armenia. It’s not like our ancient belief system is itching to make a major come back. A weakened Christianity in Armenia will simply cause the further spread of Atheism and Westernization/Globalism in the country. In fact, in recent years, there are more willing Armenian converts to Islam than to “Armenian Paganism”. Therefore, regardless of their intentions, people like Daron here are toying with Armenian sentiments and such people are ultimately a threat to Armenia.

    In a related topic, Western interests promoted “nationalism” amongst Armenians (via the ARF) during the Soviet period because such a thing could and did undermine Soviet-Armenian relations. After Armenia’s independence from of the Soviet Union, the same interests began promoting internationalism (i.e. Westernization and Globalization) to weaken Armenian nationalism and make Armenia more pliable to Western political agendas. Now, that Armenia has entered a close, economic and political union with Russia – expect the same interests to again resort to playing on the patriotic sentiments of our peasantry.

    As Nerses Shnorhali’s wonderful words – “Aravotn Luso, Arekakn Arstvats Aris Luys Tsakya” – reveals, Armenian Christianity is a continuation of our ancient Zoroastrian religion. If people train themselves to see through the fog of modern Atheism and two thousand years of church propaganda, they will realize that Christianity is actually much-much more Pagan than Jewish. For God’s sake (no pun intended), as the Jewish king was looking for the infant Christ to murder it, three Zoarastrian priests from either Armenia or Persia were seeking him to WORSHIP him. All of the Christian mysteries are Zoroastrian in nature. All of Christ’s supposed connection to the Jewish Tanakh were contrived by his Jewish converts. In other words, Christ’s Hellenized converts (probably of the sun worshiping Essene sect in classical Palestine) were trying convert their kin from their primitive belief system.

    Regarding Muslim Armenians: I am more nuanced regarding this issue. While I do not think we have any room whatsoever for “Muslim Armenians” in our nation, we do however need to establish lines-of-communications with such Armenians in Turkey simply as a geostrategic measure that we may need to exploit sometime in the future. Most Hamshen Armenians that have left Turkey have reconverted to Christianity or are non practicing Muslims. I think significant numbers of Armenians in Russia’s Krasnodar region moved there Hamshen in the 19th century but fully identify themselves as Armenian Christians today…

    • Sarkis said:

      Very reasonable position to take Harutik. While others are focusing on the role of Christianity, or more specifically Armenian Orthodox Christianity, in forming Armenian identity, I’d like to focus more on genetics. I personally see a mortal threat to whatever is left of Armenian racial integrity by pretending that individuals who are more than 87% by blood (ie 7/8 grandparents) non-Armenian turks and kurds are as Armenian as you or I. Are we to pretend that there are no racial/genetic differences between Armenians and the turks and kurds, as so many turkish and jewish pseudoscientists have done in the past by falsely claiming that Armenians were just a historically unnoteworthy sub-tribe of Mongoloid or Semetic stock, rather than one of the earliest and most advanced progenitors of what would become classical European and Near Eastern civilizations? The ideal of Tseghakron is to put the Tsegh as the focal point of our identity, and that is impossible to do if the Tsegh is reduced to a vague and boundary-less abstraction rather than a concrete, definite concept.
      To anyone interested, here is an excellent resource on the issue of Armenian Orthodox Christianity and development and role in Armenian identity:
      http://thenon-judaicnatureofchrist.blogspot.com/
      I’ll just add that if past experience is anything to go by, then we should learn from the tragic mistakes of Armenians who converted from Armenian Orthodox Christianity to Greek Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism or Protesantism – they almost all assimilated into oblivion relatively shortly after abandoning the Armenian Church. And Armenian paganism has been dead and buried for over 1700 years, and there is no more hope of reviving it than there is reviving the Classical Armenian language into a living, everyday language. Those aspect of our culture are to be relegated to Armenian history, always honored and casting a long shadow over modern Armenian culture but never to return to their former statuses.
      ps not just partial Armenians in turkey, but also kurds should be a target as tools for Armenian influence within turkey… Of course turkish intelligence (with NATO, European and American help of course) can just as easily set up double agents within that same community for their own subversive, anti-Armenian purposes.

  14. Alex Postallian said:

    May I be blunt:The issue at hand is not whether your 100%,30%,!0%,Armenian,the past is prologue..The enemy is jerky turkey(mongols,liars,genociders; added to the list their paid stooges. Armenians never help their own,like jews.FOCUS ON THE REAL ENEMY,who created these problems.The mongols who invaded,beautiful Anatolya,and turned it into an animal sewer,developing favoritism, by bribes,lies, and deceit.To throw this out for grabs…..jerky turkey,biggest COWARDS,only attack UNARMED WOMEN,CHILDREN,OLD PEOPLE……50 times smaller foes………

  15. Teda said:

    Dear friends, instead of arguing on this matter, it”s better to start an armenian family, to raise armenian children, to teach them our language, our history, our values. It is true that armenians existed before christianity, but for 1700 years our predominant religion is christianity. But this doesn’t mean that we must reject the armenians who have other religion. They are also armenians, if they share our language, our tradition, our values.

  16. vatche said:

    If we accept the Urartu as our ancestors, we can accept Muslim Armenians as our off shoots.
    Inclusiveness is a way to relate to greater number of minds. Have greater number of allies and understanding.
    Extreem positions always lead to polarization, we need clear thinkers and warm hearts.

  17. Sarkis said:

    @Daron:

    BTW I’m glad you share my views on the topics you listed. Please consider commenting here more often, posting rebuttals and correction to any unfair treatment of Armenia which you see in the articles on Asbarez. Asbarez has been very even-handed in not censoring opposing views as of late. Put the same effort you spent arguing against Christianity into comments about Postanjian, Hovannisian, Oskanian, Richard Giragosian, as well as against the “Revolution Now(!)” segment of the Diasporan which we both consider dangerous to Armenia.

  18. Shahe Mazbanian said:

    I am speechless in some of the comments I read. Shame on you guys for writing such vulgar thoughts. With
    I grew up seeing the Catholicos in Antelias , so I personally always intertwined the Armenian Apostolic Church with our culture. I would assume if someone wants to be Armenian , then they could get baptized in our Church. I can care less about the color if their skin, and as MLK said we should judge someone by the content of their character.

  19. john said:

    We not only have Islamized Armenians but we have Turkified Armenians also. Turkified Armenians exist in high numbers among certain populations of former Azeri Armenians and some Yerevan Hayastansis. This is the result of the ethnic cleansing that was committed by Shah Abbas when he invaded Armenia in the 1500’s and established the Erivan Khanate where he deported 80% of the Armenian population to Isfahan Iran and then replaced 80% of the population with Turks and Azeris.
    Thank God that the Nagorno-Karabagh Armenians have remained pure and that explains why the elite of Armenia are from Nagorno Karabagh. If you look at the Armenian Power gang members, they look just like Turks.

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