Who is an Armenian?

tkevonian (Medium)“What if an Armenian was Muslim or Bahai, or Hindu?” the question is asked one day during a conversation about ethnic identity and why it was tied into religious identity.

There are those, mostly scholars in Armenia, who vehemently deny the Armenian ethnic identity to anyone who is not of the Christian faith, particularly of the Orthodox persuasion. They claim that being Armenian automatically assumes and implies Christianity.

This logic would be acceptable except for the fact that Armenians, as an ethnic group, existed long before Christianity or their conversion to it in a bloody and violent manner. The switch to the religion that now identifies us was not a peaceful one and St. Gregory the Illuminator himself waged the war.

Armenia, two millennia ago, had a varied population. Strategically located at the crossroads of the region, many cultures passed through the area while some chose to make it their permanent home. As a result, the Armenia of that day was culturally diverse, religiously tolerant and very cosmopolitan.

Legend has it that upon King Drtad’s miraculous cure at the hands of St. Gregory the Illuminator, he immediately converted to the magical new religion and proclaimed Armenia to now be a Christian state. Everyone was to set aside their previous religious beliefs which they’d held for hundreds of years in favor of a new one and live happily ever after in the afterglow of their new found religion. But the story doesn’t end there. Or even begin there.

King Drtad was the infant son of Khosrov II when he was assassinated by Anak, an Armenian operating as an agent for the Persian Empire. St. Gregory was the son of Anak who, as an adult, returned to Armenia and worked for King Drtad without informing him of his true identity.

The legend taught to Armenian children today does not include this fact. Completely ignoring it, it skips directly to St. Gregory’s time spent in the dungeon for being a Christian. In reality, his incarceration came about because of the king’s discovery of the assistant’s true heritage. Which king wouldn’t imprison the son of his father’s assassin?

The story goes on to say that after Drtad is cured of his illness at the hands of Gregory, he becomes a believer of Christianity. As a young king, Drtad fought hard to liberate Armenia and create a quasi independent state. His country’s conversion to the upstart religion was the final break from his Roman and Persian neighbors at a time when religion affiliation was a key tool that set a nation apart.

The process of becoming peace-loving Christians was anything but peaceful or loving. The legend of Drtad omits the key part of the story by ignoring the ‘how’ of the conversion. Although begun peacefully, it soon turned violent when nobles, priests and their followers of the prevailing faiths resisted the efforts of the state. The forced conversion of hundreds of thousands of people had other purposes besides spreading the word of God. Under the guise of religion, Kind Drtad was able to purge his land of political opposition and enemy agents and confiscate the wealth of the existing temples. Everyone was either forced to convert or lose their heads. His right-hand man in this war was none other than St. Gregory, the founder of the Armenian Orthodox church. His greatest supporter and passionate advocate of the effort was Ashkhen, Drtad’s wife who was not Armenian.

In one brief decade, Armenia went from a culturally diverse nation without an official national language to one that espoused uniformity and conformity where the use of Armenian became a requirement and strictly enforced. Survival is a basic human instinct and many did convert rather than lose their heads. Some of the descendants of those who chose to convert almost two millennia ago were, in the early part of the 20th century, forced to make yet another difficult choice: convert or die, but this time to Islam.

Why is identity tied to faith? What about Armenians that are Orthodox but don’t speak a word of the language or know any of the history? What of the Armenian of mixed heritage with the overwhelming love and enthusiasm for the Armenian culture who practices another religion? Do they qualify?

At a recent photo exhibit, Harry, a well known photographer, gave a contextual explanation of one of his photos that looked like nothing more than Muslim village women escaping a flood while holding their children to their breast. The real story is that they were Kurdish women, who after the death of their children and the hardships they endured, were allowed by Turkey to emigrate to Germany. “But the best part,” said Harry, “is that when going through customs and registering their names in their new home country, each one of them gave an Armenian name.” They reclaimed their original identity. “Now, they even have a nice little community with a church.”

Today, in the remote corners of what was once a part of greater Armenia and is now Turkey, there exists a substantial group of Armenians who have almost all converted to Islam. Although they maintain their Armenian identity and their distinctive Armenian dialect, they do not practice the espoused religion of Christianity. Do we consider them to be Armenian?

It is estimated that there are several million “hidden” Armenians in Turkey and the surrounding areas. A little-thought of side effect of the Armenian-Turkish protocols and the resulting improved relations between the two countries may be just the encouragement and motivation these Armenians need to stand up and reclaim their roots and fortify our numbers. Can we deny them their Armenian identity? Can we afford not to?


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  1. Armen said:

    It should be stressed that Armenians are NOT part of the Orthodox denomination. Those are the Greeks, Georgians, Russians, Serbs and other peoples in the Balkans. The overwhelming number of Armenians are part of the Apostolic denomination.

  2. Aya said:

    Armenian is an Armenian, thats the most important thing. Muslim or Christian, we are brothers and sisters.

  3. Guest said:

    #1.  You are describing ancient Armenia with modern ideas of religious tolerance, ethnicity, etc. in ways that were most likely not really applicable to ancient peoples.
    #2. I went to an Armenian school and I can most definitely tell you the part about Gregory being the son of an assassin is taught. The part about the forcible conversion is also taught, and even how Etchmiadzin happens to be built upon one of the most important pagan shrines in Armenia.
    #3. I do not purposefully mean to be rude, but for someone making such big statements about Armenian history, you should know that Gregory was not the founder of our church. There is a reason why it is called the Armenian Apostolic Church and not the Armenian Illuminated Church.
    #4. Identity is tied to faith because faith forms such a big part of identity. This is especially true for Armenians. I’m sure you know the relevant history/mythology.
    #5. You don’t have to Armenian Orthodox to be  Armenian, but if you are not you have to sort of make up for it by emphasizing some other aspect of Armenianness because like I said, the Armenian Orthodox Church has been so essential to Armenian identity in the past 1700 years that by turning away from it, you necessarily are cutting yourself off from a huge aspect of our identity. This isn’t a particularly big gap if you are Catholic Armenian Rite or Armenian Evangelical, but if you are Muslim it is. However, I would say changing your name and the name of everyone in your village most definitely qualifies.

  4. papken hartunian said:

    In my opinion, there are three classes of Armenians. First class is, I call them, Armenians Armenians who are born as Armenians and lived as Armenians and served for Armenia and Armenians during their lives.

    Second class, I call them born again Armenians, are Armenians who are born as Armenians, however they are grown up as none Armenians.  Some of these Armenians later on chose to be identified as Armenians and continue serve Armenia and other Armenians during rest of their lives.

    Finally, there are people who have nothing to do with being an Armenian at all.  However, these people love Armenia and serve Armenians. I call them “new Armenians.”

    In short, all people are born by default, they do not have anything to do with the place of their birth and have nothing to do in selection of their parents.  Therefore, the question “Where are you from? has only one meaningful answer- I am from my mother.  What matters is that to whom we have pledged our allegiance.

    Suppose, US and Armenia are in the state of war against each other. And you claim that you are an Armenian and you are citizen of United States or any other state for that matter.  Suppose further that, you must joint the conflict and you have given a choice to fight against either side. Which side you are going to fight? The answer to this question is the same answer of the question “Who is an Armenian?”

  5. AM said:

    “It is estimated that there are several million “hidden” Armenians in Turkey and the surrounding areas.”
    Estimated by who, how, where?  Before this statement is answered, that sentence shouldn’t have been published.  It is wishful thinking.

  6. AM said:

    Perhaps several thousand, at most a few tens of thousands, but millions?  It is ridiculous.
    Such misunderstandings led to many of the great perils in Armenian history, including the Armenian Genocide, when a group of armed political groups in Constantinople started making a bunch of noise and 20 years later the bulk of the Armenian population (many of them “hidden Armenians” and almost all unarmed) suffered annihilation.
    Let’s not spread the same kind of heresy now in Los Angeles and Paris, and have the remaining “hidden Armenians” in Turkey or the remaining “overt Armenians” in Armenia suffer at the hands of Turkish nationalists who now see a renewed threat from Armenians: the Armenian Diaspora, the “hidden Armenians” in their country, and the citizens of the Republic of Armenia.
    Please don’t sit in Los Angeles and speak on behalf of the rest of the Armenians already living in the Armenian Highland.

  7. Narine said:

    Have you ever think of the risk that can come from the “hidden” Armenians you mentioned? 
    Ayd hayere arden vaxuc hay chen garox ellal ete nkatenq, vor kan AZG -i bnoroshichner: lezu, mshakuyt` kron…(nshvacnere amenaglxavornern en) I dep, mi morceq vor darerov petakanutyun chunecac azgin hamaxbel yev glxavorel e henc krone` Hayoc Araqelakan ekexecin. Isk mahmedakanutyune da miayn kron che` ayl apreladzev, manavand Turkiayum, vortex bolore hamarvum en TURK…
    Myus harcin andradardzov asem, vor turkere ogtvelov mahmedakan hayer erevuytic, shat arag Hayastan klcnen hazaravor iskakan turqeri` verjnakan npatakin` hayeri verjnakan vochnchacume irakanacnelu hamar.
    I think we all need to be very careful regarding this issue…
    Think twice…

  8. Haroutune Keoroghlanyan said:

    A hard  question to ponder… the long and short of it is that our so called ten million figure would have to be multiplied at least four, maybe five times…Christianity has proved to be a terribly expensive indulgence for us. I wander how seriously Armenia would be treated with a population of FIFTY MILLION and working ports on the Black sea, the Mediterranean and the Caspian… at the turn of the last century Baku was an Armenian-owned city … is it possible that Azerbaijan would today be a pan-Turkist dream?
    Seriously though, who in his right mind would dare stop more than 200,000 Hamshenis from joining the fold… the only conclusion that makes sense is to embrace everybody who claims to be Armenian, Armenian.

  9. Patricia Constantinian said:

    And what of Armenians who choose to practice no religion; those who, for whatever reason, find themselves unable to accept myths of virgin births, miracles, heaven and hell, Armenians who aren’t threatened by the idea that the Christianization of Armenia had strong political and strategic motivations?  It’s not so much that Armenians who do not participate in Orthodox Christianity do not qualify for Armenian identity.  It’s more likely that they cannot find a place in Armenian community life and still be open about their divergent faith or non-belief.  The fact that an Armenian identity is defined in such narrow, exclusionary terms will, in my opinion, ultimately bring about the dissolution, dilution, and demise of our ethnic and cultural identity.  It might just be that worked in the 4th and 5th Centuries has exhausted its purpose over the course of 1600 years or so.

  10. Roger said:

    Great, thought-provoking article about how History,  ignored, may repeat itself. Kevonian points out a cycle that is tied in to the peculiar nature of Armenia’s religion and how it is tied in to nationality.

  11. Tro said:

    The Turkified, Muslim Armenians do not consider THEMSELVES Armenian, like much of the Hamshen Armenians.  Even if they know that they have Armenian ancestry, they feel more Turkish than Armenian.

  12. Jirair said:

    Drtad’s conversion to Christianity was purely a political act. Perhaps it is important to live in France (as I am) and observe the French concern of the spread of English language as a universal language to understand the motivation of Drtad.  Tamar Kevonian’s article does not give enough weight to the fact that the introduction of Christianity was the means to distinguish the Armenian nation from that of the Persians. A hundred years later the invention of the Armenian alphabet was also a political act. This time, the objective was to distinguish the Armenian nation from the Greeks and the Romans, who by then had converted to Christianity and their influence was a danger to the Armenian national identity. Even though I agree with Kevonian’s point that today, being christian and speaking Armenian is not a prerequisite for being Armenian, but I do not agree with her argumentation to demonstrate her point. In fact any individual who feels Armenian is Armenians. The saying goes: You are what you feel you are.
    In the 4th and 5th century, the Armenian leaders were pursuing a “nation building” strategy which was appropriate at that time. Today the strategy is not only “building” but also “uniting the nation with all its components” since the context different. Hence my agreement with the article.
    But worth noting here an other point. For centuries, Armenians have pursued an “isolationist” strategy and build barriers. Otherwise how can we explain, for example … “why didn’t the Armenians try to convert the Persians to Christianity, when they had over 400 years before the arrival of the Arabs who converted the Persians to Islam?”.  (Those who had the opportunity to study the history of the spread of Islam, know that the Arabs, in the 7th century did not attempt to convert Jews nor Christians to Islam. The only condition for those,  was to pay their taxes. While pagans, i.e. Persians had no choice: convert to Islam or loose your head). To my knowledge there is no trace in our history where we have used “missionaries” or any other means to convert the Persians to Christianity, while the spread of Christianity was based on missionary activities. Why didn’t we ? The military and economic power of Persia cannot explain our lack of interest to convert them to Christianity. We just did not want to. We kept to our “isolationist” strategy.
    One must also agree, that the “isolationist” strategy worked well and kept our nation, although small, but going and helped it survive.

  13. Haro said:

    Please Tamar, before writing such articles do some research (no offense by my argument, please take my criticism very objectively). And by research, I mean some recently discovered Armenian historians and archeological research. This is a very provoking subject and should not be addressed so hastily, especially when you have related it to the Khaytarag Protocols.
    “Who is Armenian” subject surfaced just recently, approximately 5 years ago, when Turkey announced that they have a sizable population of Hamshenies. And then this issue exploded as Muslin Armenians that still live in Turkey. Everyone by now knows that this is yet another propaganda method to confuse the Armenians all over the world (that are still Armenians) by destroying the only root that may have remained in them, namely the Armenian Identity. It is ironic, that you have fallen into this trap and have written such article precisely like a Turkish revisionist historian.
    First of all, Armenian does not equate to “religion”. By “religion”, you should not assume anything concrete. Because, this term means a million things and is interpreted in a million ways. It’s the same thing as trying to define the word “God”. There are more than 3 billion inhabitants on this planet, and I assure you that the word “God” has more than 3 billion interpretation. Therefore, to put Armenian Identity (a term that has a concrete meaning) question at the level of  the term “Religion” is the mother of all propagandas. And Turks know how to create such things.
    Therefore, instead of associating the Armenian Identity with the term “religion”, we should associate with written and developed doctrines. Such as Orthodoxy, Armenian Apostolic Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Islam or more accurately the Ottoman Islamism. You see, even Islamism cannot be discussed without referencing the nationalism of the Muslim. Yes, there is a difference between Arab Islam, Persian Islam or Turkish Islam (besides their shiite or suni sects).
    When you outline these background information, it becomes very clear that in the region of Greater Armenia land, the only Islam that existed until today is the Turkish Islam. And therefore there are no such fallacies as Muslin Armenians. Because, if there were, then 80 percent of the current Turkish population would automatically become Armenians. This of course is the whole point of the Turkish government’s destructive diplomacy (i.e. confuse the Armenian Identity to confuse the Armenians by making them fight each other on a stupid question of Armenian Identity).
    The question of Armenian Identity is very clear and there are very nicely written books about it (e.g. Armen Ayvasyan, Shiraz, Charenz, Tekeyan and many other Armenian writers, both inside and outside the current Armenia). It is ironic that all of these Armenian writers will never use the term “Muslin Armenians”, because there is a historically well understood term for such, and it is called “Dajgazanel”, “Turkaszvel”, “Turkanal” and ‘Ouranal”. When an Armenian was converted to Islam, she/he was converted into Turkishness before becoming Islam.
    Having said these, let me do some correction in the Christian history that Tamar has stumbled into. First of all, Gregory was not that much Christian (meaning Jesus follower). He and Drtad had no option but to accept Christianity, because almost all nobleman and a sizable of Vagharshabat and Araratian population were already Christians. They realized that by making Christianity state doctrine they will unify Armenia against future Persian doctrines. Secondly, there is a difference between Christianity and the doctrine of followers of Jesus. The term Kristos was only introduced much later during Mesrop Mashtoz, and is the name of the Grecko-Roman general Khristo who fought and won a war against the other legion of Rome (and in the name of Jesus and the Cross).
    Recent archeological discoveries are pointing to the case that Christianity (as doctrine) started originally from Armenia long before it was introduced in Middle East (namely the Mihr version of the belief). Moreover, Jesus was one of the followers of this doctrine. So the only thing that was revolutionized in Armenia was that indeed Jesus was the Son of the God that was depicted by this old Armenian Pagan belief to return to Earth (verification of this info needs a book to be outlined).
    Have anyone really asked why the Armenians were the first nation to Christianize. Well, because their old Pagan belief was the origin of the Christianity. As for the destruction of temples and inner civil uprising between Grigoris and pagans in Armenia. We have some information from Agatangeghos, and let us not ignore it. There is a mention of a high priest called Artzan who in our recent interpretation would be the true native Armenian or the follower of the Old “Christian” doctrine. Both, king Drtad (who was raised and educated in Rome) and Grigoris were more or less foreigners, while Artzan was a native Armenian, raised in Armenia. Drtad and Grigoris hated the Armenian old ways and culture, because they had either Roman or Assyrian background. Therefore the destruction of temples had nothing to do with the name of Jesus, and in fact absolutely contradictory to old Armenian “Christian” doctrine. They were destroyed because both Drtad and Grigoris hated them (because they also had personal grudge and hated the competing other authority, namely, Artzan the high priest).
    Having said all these, I give the reader the judgement of what Armenian Identity is if it is not in fact very much related to the old Armenian “Christian” doctrine, which is not very much different from today’s Apostolic doctrine of today (i.e. Armenian = Christian(the First Christian doctrine which includes everything about Armenianness). And please, no more such absurd calls of “Oh, then you are denying the right of some poor Pilipino Muslin Armenian to be Armenian”. Oh, please… I am not denying anything, they have the very freedom of converting back to Armenian Apostolic Church, and the very freedom of learning Armenian language and standing by the side of a united Armenia. In fact, anyone can become Armenian if they want to (even your pet dog for that matter, btw. my dog understands Armenian very well, is she Armenian? I don’t know let see… she woreships me, I am Armenian, yea OK she is Armenian, why not?). But they have to become Armenian by deeds and not just by absurd names.

    • Phyllis Martin said:

      You make more sense than any of the other writers. I am in the process of writing a novel with the “old religion” of Armenia and it’s pre-Grigoris origina. Cannot say much more as it’s not fully developed yet. My aim is to understand the origins of the ancient religions and I have read so much but so much disagrees. More than anything, I wish to portray ancient Armenia as accurately as possible. You are so right that Christianity absolutely existed in Armenia before “Christianization.” Wish I could get in touch and tell you more.

  14. Sako said:

    Tamar, in Montreal, I went to Sourp Hagop. we learned that St Gregory was the son of King Drtad’s assassin. Alot of people know what u wrote. It’s well written and I enjoyed it but u make it seem like its top secret information.

  15. Vahe said:

    My parents are Christian and I am not. If someone tries to tell me that I am not Armenian or in any way lesser one because of me not being religious – they are out of their minds.  You can’t take away my or any other person’s nationality or bestow it on someone not born Armenian by grading some personal characteristics. I don’t think that there are good or bad Armenians, just like there are no good or bad French or Chinese. There are good or bad people, depending on where you live and whose scales are you using.

  16. Armen said:

    Let’s all go to Garni and worship Aramazd like they used to!  I wonder if there are any Pagan Armenians left…?

  17. Haro said:

    OK, good example from Vahe’s comment. Vahe’s parents are Christians, but he thinks he is not. But his parents are Armenians and he thinks he is too. Vahe, are you Muslim? God forbit he is not. So how do you know that you are not Christian. He says, he is not religious. You see, what Tamar has started, an endless energy exhaustion system to confuse all Armenians that still believe very firmly that they are true Armenians. Vahe, I know what you are feeling, I for one being a scientist am not a religious person too. But who said that Armenian Christianity (not any other) is a religion. It becomes a religion, when you take whatever Mashtoz did out and away from the doctrine (e.g. write the bible in Turkish in Roman characters, and leave no Armenian trace in it, then destroy all historic document pertaining to Armenianness).
    Only then Armenian Christianity becomes a “religion”.
    Vahe has also pointed out yet another foregone confusion that arises from this Turkish propaganda machine. Namely, being a good or bad Armenian. See, this is what the enemy wants to put us into. Degrade our Armenian Identity by questioning it with some absurd terms, such as “Muslim Armenian” terminology.
    Vahe, you are 100% right.

  18. daron said:

    To Armen,
    No brother, no more Pagan Armenians left, thanks to Krikor Lousavorich and Haro…  By the way Haro, were Jesus and Noah Armenian too, I’m just wondering.

  19. Dino Ajemian said:

    To Narine:
    Don’t worry. The barbarians already know exactly where every crypto Armenian, Armenian, Alevi Zaza and every other non sunni and non turk is, what they do and where they go, in turkey and in the diaspora. In fact they know what prominent Armenians in the diaspora had for lunch and whether or not they are cheating on their wifes or husbands. They read our emails and know our internet surfing habits.   They know what every Armenian organization is planning. There is nothing the turkish intelligence services dont know.

    On a happier note, I am an Armenian pagan believer but have respect and love for the Jew called Jesus. He is my favorite Jew. 30% of Armenia is pagan. I pray to Vahakn for Armenian victories and a cool breeze on a hot summer day and I thank Goddess Anahit whenever I am in an Armenian womans embrace. There are Armenians who give information to the barbarians on a day to day basis and there are odars who speak Armenian, are members of and worship at Armenian Apostalic churches and have fought in Artsakh. Which one is Armenian?

  20. papken hartunian said:

    There are Pagans living in Armenia. Tthey go in Garni and celebrate their own holidays. Are these Pagans Armenians? Depends!

  21. Onnig Z said:

    How about Armenians of the Jewish faith?
    Why were they not included in your research?

  22. armenian said:

    very informative, i was surprised that asparez would publish such a daring article, it is almost the end of 2009, in this age of abundant scientific discoveries,  how much longer before people wake up from their religious hypnosis, my fellow armenians,  if u want to worship something, that is your right, but by all means do not define my ancestry based on a religious affiliation, while i am grateful for the (orthodox, excuse me “apostolic” church not to offend religious guardians) for preserving the Armenian culture, it also subsequently alienated those who did not believe in christianity and therefore severed their tie with armenianness…lost treasure for border-less armenia, and much gain for the the other nations  which absorbed our pride and joy, it is my dream that all the daughters and sons of hayk and armenak, whether they are aware of their identity or not, atheist, or religious  will experience a fervent ethnic renaissance  and shift their focus on the motherland ARME’NIA,
    after all when the dust settles, and the he said she said subsides, all that matters is the strength of our nation, when bickering amongst yourself remember always, that a family cannot stay together and continue to coexist, unless they live in a safe  house built on strong foundations, and all of us should never forget that, outside armenia whatever its boundary de jure might be, we  armenians are nothing but  a temporary guest, and if you don’t believe me all you have to do is revisit history, and you will see, that after 600 years of fairly good and prosperous life under the turks we were subjected to a campaign of extermination…and please don’t rush to incite religious animosity, based on reliable  historical accounts,  christians have not faired much different toward other fellow christians that were subjugated,
    i dream of a modern armenia, far ahead of its time, the new world center of creativity, the birth place of the true human rights, unlike the pseudo propagandist versions that  drowned the western societies, i dream of an armenia where every citizen is treated fairly and equally before the law regardless of their background  and preferences,  a model country, a golden society inspiring the rest of the world

  23. Garo said:

    Tamar- great article. The topic of “Muslim” Armenians is becoming only more relevant as the Republic of Turkey continues to democratize.
    Haro- How narrow of a definition should we make “Armenianess”? For example, Saint Movses Khorenatsi was a Chalcedonian Christian. In your opinion, should the Armenian Apostolic Church (non-Chalcedonian) remove his sainthood? For those who are staunch Christian nationalists, your Orthodoxy must surely compel you to “love thy neighbor” regardless of their religious or atheist beliefs?
    And to those whose paranoia has got the better of them, Turkification and Islamification are, in fact, two completely separate processes. Let us not forget that a large number of truly God-fearing Muslims risked their lives and provided us shelter and safe passage without forced assimilation during the Genocide in modern day Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Lebanon.
    Tamar and Patricia are absolutely correct. The world has become a completely different place within the last one hundred years and we must expand on the notion of what is to be Armenian. I wholeheartedly believe this as a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
    Pluralism and tolerance is essential for both the Republic and the Diaspora. Armenia’s faltering democracy is in dangerously short supply of them both. The Diaspora’s sometimes myopic view of each other creates unnecessary prejudice which ultimately undermines our universal goal- preservation of the homeland. With the aforementioned tenets, we can grow in number and organization, two essential factors in expanding geopolitical influence within Asia Minor, Anatolia, and the Caucasus. A paradigm of neo-Armenianism throughout the entire historic homeland must be adopted irrespective of one’s religious, political, or dialectic differences.
    Let us celebrate our ancient and common heritage rather than estrange those groups categorically victimized by oppression.

  24. christian manougian said:


  25. Mikael said:

    I was also taught that Gregory was the son of Anak who killed Drtad’s father. That isn’t some secret hidden away. It was part of the normal curriculum at school and in Church. Armenian Identity does not equal Christianity. I agree with Haro on every point. I should also mention there is a sizable Jewish community in Armenia as well. They were born in Armenia, speak Armenian and practice the culture. The only difference is that they happen to not be Christian. Are they not Armenian as well? No offense, but my thoughts of this article are that some hasty generalizations were made according to poor research.

  26. Haro said:

    My sisters and brothers, all of us that have commented here know what Armenian Identity is. We don’t need a debate by some writer to tell us what Armenian is. My point in these commentary was to point that the term “Muslim Armenian” was invented by the Turkish revisionist historians, and is a provocative propaganda machinery. There are no such Armenians. Of course, there are Armenians that converted to Islam either by force in order to save their lives. But we Armenians do not call them “Muslin Armenian”s. We have a traditional term for it depending on how they converted into Islam. If they converted to Islam by their own will, then they Turkified if they lived in current day Turkey. If they converted to Islam because they were kidnapped by a Kurd or Arab, then they are called “Dajkgazouaz”s. Then there are some Armenian children that were bought or saved during the Genocide by benevolent Arabs and Kurds, those Armenians kept their faith and remained “Armenian Christian”. My grandfather was a survivor of this third kind. He was raised among Kurds, and he remained Armenian and Christian (I mean “Armenian Christian”).
    Finally, as a scientist, I may be identified as an atheist. But I have no conflict with “Armenian Christianity”, because I have studied all the details of the Armenian old manuscripts and found that “Armenian Christianity” is beyond the term “religion”. It’s the same thing as talking about the background music of a movie and the whole movie along with the music. Armenian Christianity is not just religion. It has more than 3500 years of roots in Armenian Highland. For example, you cannot take “Avarayr” battle out of the Armenian Christianity and expect to have the same effect. Again, please note that I am equating Armenian with “Armenian Christianity” and not just any other Christianity. Armenian Christianity has its root in the pagan Mihr (as in Poker Mher, or Mheri Door) believes, and even to this day, there are symbolic references to Mihr in the old manuscripts. Under every old church in Armenia, there is a pagan foundation. Moreover, the Khoran, Khoung, Muron, Zes, almost everything that does not refer to Jesus is entirely pagan. In short, the whole foundation is pagan. There are many references of Mihr in the Grecko-Roman Christianity as well, for example the symbol of triumph over the bull (Spanish Toro), the Holy Trinity, etc.
    One of the commenters was asking whether Jesus was Armenian. No, he was not, but he was a follower of Mihr believe, which originated from Armenia. The Mihr believe was introduced to Egypt mostly during the Tigran the Great’s time. As for Noah, this part of the mythology is not very  clear, but, why the Bible has references to Ararat? Some historians believe that this story may have passed to the Jews via the Armenians, again during the time of Tigran the Great.
    Finally, Armenian Identity should imply all these, not just whether the person believes in an abstract and unseen Allah or God (who was more or less created by “human”s).
    Also, the “Muslim Armenian” term does not bring much honor to those 1.5 million Armenians victims of the Genocide, who remained Armenian Christian and were massacred by the Turks. So please, don’t talk to me about religious tolerance BS.
    Tamar jan, please don’t raise your children as “Muslim Armenian”. You can raise them as atheist, if you really hate the Armenian Christianity, or Saint Mesrob and Vartan, so much.

  27. Haro said:

    One final note from me, watch this YouTube clip and think about what “Muslim Armenian” propaganda terminology is going to lead us into:


    Thanks all, I am out of this article debate. The rest of my efforts will be included in my next documentary movie “Ագռաւի Դուրը” (Agravi Doore, in English “The Craw’s Entrance”).

  28. most pessimist optimist said:



    very informative, i was surprised that asparez would publish such a daring article, it is almost the end of 2009, in this age of abundant scientific discoveries,  how much longer before people wake up from their religious hypnosis, my fellow armenians,  if you want to worship something, that is your right, but by all means do not define my ancestry based on a religious affiliation, while i am grateful for the (orthodox, excuse me “apostolic” church not to offend religious guardians) for preserving the Armenian culture, it also subsequently alienated those who did not believe in christianity who either willingly or forcefully severed their tie with armenianness…lost treasure for border-less armenia, and much gain for the the other nations  which absorbed our pride and joy, it is my dream that all the daughters and sons of hayk, armenak, through blood line or foreign marriages, whether they are aware of their identity or not, agnostic, atheist, or religious  will experience a fervent ethnic renaissance  and shift their focus on the motherland… ARME’NIA,
    after all, when the dust settles, and the he said she said subsides, all that matters is the strength of our nation, when bickering amongst yourself remember always, that a family cannot stay together and continue to coexist, unless they live in a safe  house built on strong foundations, whatever its boundary de jure might be, and all of us should never forget that, outside armenias protective wings,  we  armenians are nothing but  temporary guests, and if you don’t believe me all you have to do is revisit history, and you will see, that after 600 years of fairly good and prosperous life under the turks we were subjected to a campaign of extermination…and please don’t rush to incite religious animosity, based on reliable  historical accounts,  christians have not faired much better toward other fellow christians they subjugated, who can forget the endless barrage of religious persecutions endured under the byzantine roman christian rule, or better yet, how our compatriots are being treated in christian georgia at the present day???

    I dream of a new armenia, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, far ahead of its time, the new world center of creativity, the birth place of  true human rights, social, economic and personal freedoms, unlike the pseudo propagandist versions that  drowned the western societies with illusions, i dream of an armenia where corruption is reviled, justice is blind, and poverty is extinct,  a model country, a golden society inspiring the rest of the world.

  29. Baron's Life said:

    Great article Tamar and also great responses….who’s Armenian?

    I , hereby,  declare THE WHOLE WORLD  is ARMENIAN…

    They just don’t know it yet….!

  30. daron said:

    Again thanks for the  information that you posted, although I disagree with it.  To start with, Mihr that you are referring to is an old Persian religion “Mithraism” that was adopted later by Roman military class and by Armenian Royal Class.  King Dertad was initiated into Mithraism but nowhere in my research I found indications that claim Mithraism as Armenian religion.   A good reference for Mithraic rites and mysteries is “The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries” by David Ulansey, you can also refer to books written by Joseph Campbell.  Regarding to the atrocities that were committed by the Apostolic Armenian Church towards fellow Armenians you can refer to ” The Tondrakian Movement ” by Vrej Nersessian. 
    On the other hand, branding Armenians that do not practice Christianity as non Armenians is a fallacy.  I have met  Buddhist, Hindu and Islam Armenians who feel strongly towards their national identity, and I’m sure by not regarding them as Armenians will be an insult to their Armenian pride. 
    Nevertheless, I respect your perspectives and wish you good luck on your future work.

  31. Haro said:

    daron, your references to Mithraism is correct (yes Mihr is exactly that), but the origins are switched. The references you have given here are old research, and there are new evidence now that point to the fact that almost all Persian old paganism came from Armenian Highland. For example, Ahuramasta name is pronounced very wrong. In Avestian there are no written vowels except “A”, how on the earth “a-HU-ramasta” came about, well, the answer is very simple. It was misread by the first German scholar when he tranlsated the Avesta. If you take HU out, it becomes ARAMAST. The correct Armenian name. In fact, even Zaratustra name comes from the Armenian Highland (it’s pronounced wrong). Daron, new research is being explored these days, and people need to update their 60-80 year old background.
    Secondly, yes there were attrocities commited by Drtad and Grigoris, but the work of early writers had it all blamed on Armenian Christianity (i.e. written in black and white). There were more factors. For example, we have the death (poisoning) of Nerses the Great, which follows by assasination of King Pap by Byzantines. So there is more to it than what we have been taught in black and white (i.e. Pagan and Christians).
    By the way, this later subject will be included in yet another documentary that I am working on, with the name “Հայոց Գրերը”. At this moment, I am working on “Ագռաւաքարը” movie.

    Again, please read my comments more carefully, I am not talking about people’s religion, I am talking about the term “Muslim Armenian”. As if we don’t have enough problems on the Armenian Nation’s head, now we have to eat such absurd propaganda terms.
    Why Asbarez is not writing anything about the education in Armenia and in Diaspora. How? we have lost our Armenian culture in USA in the last 20 years. What good it is for my child to send to Armenian school, if they come back from school every day with less and less of the Armenian that I myself have taught them.
    Enough of this BS about “Muslim Armenian”s and the religious tolerence BS talks. It was just last election that the Reps were attacking Obama with “He is Muslim” narrow mindness.

  32. Gagik said:

    The sheer number of responses clear indicates that this is an important issue and it deserves a careful, and thoughtful, consideration. On the one side, we, as a nation, do not want to alienate any human being of Armenian descent. On the other side, the national identity has been successfully preserved over the centuries of persecution and continuous struggle because we were able to draw the line.

    I can understand that because of our tragic history some people were forced to convert, or did so voluntarily in order to survive. But now is the 21st century. If a person leaves in the democratic state and feels strongly about his/her Armenian identity, then it is hard to understand why the person cannot change his name, convert back to Christianity, and become fully accepted by the community. For example, I met some Armenians in Europe who still have non-Armenian names and behave themselves (appearance, way of life, priorities) in such a way that it is hard for them to become integrated into Armenian community. So, to blame the Armenians that they are not tolerant enough is highly unfair.

    Situation is quite different with converted Armenians who live under conditions when changing their names and claiming their Christianity could have consequences for them and their families. We cannot require them to do things that could endanger their lives. We have to show as much understanding as possible and also to be patient. The day may come when these Armenians will find themselves under conditions when claiming their true identity will become less consequential. Then it will be their choice to make such decisions so that the Armenian nation could wholeheartedly embrace them.

  33. Stepan Sargsyan said:

    This article makes big claims which directly contradict historical record.  I wonder whether the author has any knowledge of Armenian history, other than what’s in school textbooks (which, the author, does not seem to have read closely either). 

  34. Haro said:

    Here is a well written article that most probably will answer all of our concerns in this commentary (I recommend all, especially Tamar, to read this article):
    Again, thanks all for your concern about this subject.
    My current concern is our children in Diaspora, especially the situation of the Armenian schools, and the cultural education of the Armenian youth. Roger Kupelian is working on his movie for over 6 years now, perhaps we need an army of movie makers like him to educate our youth.

  35. Frank said:

    When a person says I am Armenian that says it all.
    For no other reason than wanting to be an Armenian.
    Even when they cant speak Armenian.
    I have met people like this and they could not speak Armenian but were very proud to be Armenian.
    I am not counting those that say I am Armenian to make business with Armenians
    I think those  people are very dirty.

  36. kyb said:

    First of all I like to congratulate Tamar for writing such a great article which made many of us to think and rethink after reading it, -isn’t that what a modern day newspaper columeist suppose to do to to begin with?-. Therfore, as far as I am concerned,  Tamar’s mission, with her article is truly a  ‘”mission accomplished”.
    Second, I am shocked to read reader comments by those who can find the moral authority in themselves to define ‘Who is an Armenian” based on their ideology or upbringing, and dare to question the validity of the others Armenian-ism based on these norms.
    My definition is very simple to identify being an Armenian: I say” all those who claim they are Armenian, and proud of calling themselves Armenian, are Armenian” . Period , end of discussion! I will add saying that” Armenian-ism is a birth right and is not something bestowed on us because of any act, ideology or religious belief”.
    Furthermore,  be assured that , those Hemshinsis, or hidden Armenians of Turkey, in their own way has given a much bigger struggle to keep their Armenian identity, which many of us in other lands  take it as granted! Those of you who question that , I suggest you to read  Fethiye Cetin’s “My Grandmother” book to have a better understanding on this subject.
    At the end of the day we Armenians are hand full bunch in the world 9-10  million at the most, let’s put our emphasis on our commonalities and inclusiveness, rather than the differences and exclusiveness!  In my opinion, that is how we can strengthen our Armenian identity for generations to come!

  37. Haro said:

    Some of the comments here are really ironic. I mean, for example KYB has read Fethiye Cetin’s book, but obviously has not read any book of Dr. Armen Ayvasyan. Is this a good example of being Armenian? To recommend us to read Turkish literature and don’t give a damn about some brilliant Armenian literature. If this is what Armenian-ness is all about, then maybe I am the only Mamikonian that still wants to remain Mamikonian, and we should instead ask the question “Who is Mamikonian?” now.
    Or how about the holy-jolly comment of Frank. Yea, ye don’t have to spend a dime on your child sending to Armenian schools and what’s not. All ye have to do is tell little Billy to say “I am Armenian”. He does not even have to say “Ես հայ եմ”, why you need Armenian language for. They are not gonna use it when they grow up.
    You know, once for my life, I am gonna get really angry on such comments. And when I do, I am gonna respond only in Armenian. If you cannot read it, then go back to school and learn Armenian.

  38. Frank said:

    I have met  Turkish speaking Armenians and also Arabic Speaking Armenians and in both cases they did not have schools in their villages and their parents didnt speak the language.
    There was no way to learn Armenian.
    There was one fellow he was like this and he made every effert to learn Armenian and he did
    He became  fluent in Armenian.
    Also when a person is a proud Armenian he will eventually want to learn the language.

  39. Edward Demian said:

    My grandparents were Cilician Armenians from Kayseri. The Kesaratzi’s were prohibited from speaking Armenian. Tongues were cut off as punishment. My grandfather survived and sent his children to Armenian schools, but Turkish was the language in the home. My father and most of my uncles married odars, but sent their chilldren to Armenian schools. We haveall married odars and our chilldren don’t even know what weare.
    The welcoming seduction of this country has succeeded where the Turks failled. American Armenian families are under siege by many enamies. Assimilation is just one but drug addiction is another. But we are not going to talk about that. Shad amot e.

  40. Haro said:

    Thanks, Edward Demian,
    That’s what I mean. There are a thousand other problems that the USA Armenians face every day, and talking about some fictitious “Muslim Armenian”s is really not THE PROBLEM. We have brought the sacred term “Armenian” to the level of the mud, and now we want to find a more relaxing definition to suit our irresponsible ego.
    What is more ironic is that, assimilation is now in process inside Armenia proper, and no one is talking much about that. Most Armenian cultural foundations either lack any strategy or are running their cultural strategy on paper, while the 21-st century’s technology is assimilating the world under the disguise of “Globalization” at the speed of light. Wake up kids… you are being drugged…

  41. kyb said:

    FYI Haro, I am very familiar with works of Dr. Armen Ayvasian of Ararat foundation, and let’s leave it at that. Since Fethiye Cetin’s book  is about real life story  of an Armenian Grandmother who survived the Armenian Genocide , got Turkified but remained Armenian in her soul until the last day of her life, to teach her grand children ( Fethiye Cetin) about her Armenian roots. On the other hand Ayvasian’s writings are all about political ideology. People  choose what they like to read because of the interest matter, and in my opinion, what one reads is not a Lepidus test for ones national identity. Unfortunately people like you, who makes assumptions  “OBVIOUSLY”- I barrowed this word from you, hope you don’t mind- without much knowledge about facts of the other person, think that by throwing words like ” brilliant Armenian literature” you are impressing your audience and showing off that you are a better Armenian. That is “silly”, it appears that you find your strength in alienation instead of respect to the other side’s point of view. As I said in my earlier post, as far as I am concerned being an Armenian is a birth right, therefore I really don’t expect any proof from anybody to show their degree of Armenia-ism. As long as you say , “you are Armenian, and proud of it” as far as I am concerned, you are as good as it can come.  Reading posts from people like Frank and Edward gives me a great degree of joy, since they are talking about something very important, for which you don’t have to master the language. That is : Feeling proud about being an Armenian.
    By the way, I welcome your Armenian posts any time, since reading and writing Armenian is something I do daily. Do you?

  42. kyb said:


    Above youtube link shows a documentary prepared by France’s channel 24. This documentery explores  Turkey’s hidden Armenians, and gives us an opportunity to understand the issue little closer. Those of you who like to have a better understanding of the subject matter , I suggest you to view it!

  43. Haro said:

    KYB, Եթէ հայ ես, մեզ հայացրու եւ ոչ թէ ջարդի այն հային որ փորձում է փրկել հայրենիքը։ Ես չեմ հաւատում որ մի տող իսկ կարդացել էք Արմէն Այվազեանից։ Իսկ ին՞չ խօսք մնացած հայ բանաստեղծներին եւ գրողներին։ Նրանք բոլորը “political ideology”ներ են գրու՞մ։ Թէ նրանք հայ չեն քո կարծիքով։ Բայց եւ սխալուում էք ձեր իսկ խօսքով, հետաքրքրութիւնը անձին ամենակարեւոր յատկանիշն է եւ նոյնիսկ բնորոշիչ իւր հայրենասիրութեան։ Այսինքն դու ես այն ինչ որ կարդում կամ հետաքրքրում է քեզ։

  44. Haro said:

    Եւ KYB, եթէ կարելի է պատասխանէք հայերէնով եւ Մեսրոպեան տառերով որպէսզի իմանանք որ Թուրք խառնակիչ չես որ՝ փորձում է մեզ հրահրել զիրար դէմ։

  45. daron said:

    I appreciate if you can provide some of the new sources that deal with ancient Armenian religion. 

  46. Frank said:

    A true Armenian must speak Armenian.
    Write in Armenian
    Read in Armenian
    The truth of the matter is majority of the 10 million or so Armenians around the world cannot do that.
    If you notice the pages written in Armenian of this web site there are no comments.
    How can you make those people that dont want to learn the language to speak in Armenian
    I personally can speak ,read and write in Armenian but when it come to writting I am lacking practice and thats why I dont make comments written in Armenian and also I dont have the fonts.

  47. B. Baronian said:

    Hi Tamar…I needed to come back to commend you on your article…you need to give us some more of this kind of stuff to revive the Armenian Spirit, The Armenian love for life, friends, family, church, children, parents, community and what have you…
    Lemme tell tell ya a story… in my so called nearing old age…I have become more attached to Armenians and to the homeland…to our roots, to our culture, to our music…to our love of one another…but I have also discovered that when it comes to politics…Armenians tend to be the unruly…, not so level headed, not so documented in their claims…, not so methodical in their approach… and I am not pointing the finger at anyone in particular…but lemme tell ya…we are not and never were a cohesive force and voice…we have too many Chiefs and not enough Indians as the saying goes and that’s why we get screwed….a case in point…Obama promised and made it a campaign policy to recognize the genocide and our sufferring…to only re-negg on his promise because we allow it and have too many u loop holes.
    Anyway…this is neither here or there cause Obama will be gone by next election unless he’s a super genious….! which I personally doubt he is.
    Armenians need to come together and unite and form a National Party that will allow us to build a nation…right now we are too fragmented…reading the comments from readers on your website I wonder where they hail from….?
    If we were to unite and to speak with one voice as the Israelis do..then the whole world, including the Israelis would listen….The way we are handling things…it’s just anybody’s game….
    Your read all the comments on your post and each one of them has a different opinion….how can we build a country on such bullshit…. AND VIEWS….most of them unfounded…
    Building a country requires forethougt and afterthought… it requires cool heads…it requires culture and it rquires the willingness to take up arms as a last resort.

  48. Haro said:

    Thanks Frank, now you are talking the truth…
    Your point of Armenian language issue is extremely important, and I will post all information about font, keyboard, spellchecker, etc. at my website (follow the link, which will become a big cultural port on internet in near future). The port will have a lot of original (new) videos in Armenian (with English subtitles). I have a lot of work to do, and I came to realize that I cannot do all single handedly. Any help on this matter would be appreciated.
    But for now, we have lots of more important problems facing the Armenian Nation. The once Lebanese-Armenian stronghold is being destroyed as we speak of, a forgone result (դառն պտուղները) of the Turkish-Armenian Normalization and the Protocols. Manufacturing and agriculture in Armenia proper is in shambles. Assimilation is now a danger in Armenia proper. Pretty soon, there will be no need to ask “Who is Armenian?” if we continue like this.
    There are a handful of Armenians doing 200 tasks each at a time, while the rest of the Armenians are undoing 20,000 tasks a minute. We need an army of Armenian intellectuals (scientists, artist, movie makers, etc.) to hold back the nation from assimilation.
    Daron, I will include all references in my movies, which I will post them at the HySpell.com port in near future. Most of the references are new developments, so you will not find them correctly presented on Google or Wiki (i.e. in fact, Wiki is unreliable on such research, or anything that has Armenian-related issues in it. This is because the Turkish+West propaganda is hundred times stronger than Armenian truth on the web). The books that you have read are mostly correct, only the “origin”s are vague and erroneous. Their authors leave this issues as mysteries, but they can trace it correctly, if they include Armenian literature in their researches (the missing link is in Armenian Highland near Van lake, and on Nemrut mountain). There is a motto in Computer Programming, “When debugging, if you cannot find the bug, it is because you are looking in the wrong place”.
    Thanks, B. Baronian, I 100% agree with you. I can feel from your comment that “Հայրենասիրութիւնը” (Patriotism) becomes like a strong love story as you become older. I believe that Patriotism is a talent. Some people have it very strongly, while others don’t have a clue about it. Unfortunately that’s how people are, and we have to struggle more and more for it.

  49. hrair said:

    I don’t know what history books you’ve been reading, or what flavor of kool Aid you’ve been drinking? Just because you’re parents are Armenian, or you speak Armenian, doesn’t make you an Armenian.  That’s wishful thinking by you!

  50. Stepan Sargsyan said:

    Dear “daron”, here are “new sources that deal with ancient Armenian religion”.  Noravank, the publisher, is the Armenian government’s think tank.


    “Աշխատության հիմնական առանցքն այն է, որ հայոց հոգևոր զարգացումները եղել են շարունակական և, ի տարբերություն այսօր շահարկվող որոշ կարծիքների, ինչպես միշտ, այնպես էլ քրիստոնեության ընդունման ընթացքում չեն վերացրել ազգային արժեքները։ Հայ հին կրոնի ընդերքում հայտնաբերված մի շարք բաղադրյալներ և առանձնահատկություններ վկայում են, որ հայ հավատալիքներում բավականին ակտիվ են եղել տարրեր և երանգներ, որոնք մերձեցրել են հայ հավատքը միաստվածությանը։ Այդ տարրերը դիտվում են որպես ավելի հին, սկզբնական ընկալումներ, որոնց հետագայում գումարվել են որոշակի պոլիթեիստական շերտավորումներ։ Ուստի Հայաստանում քրիստոնեության ընդունումը որպես պետական կրոն չի կարող ընկալվել իբրև օտարամուտ գաղափարների պարտադրանք։ 301թ. հայոց դարձն ունեցել է լուրջ նախադրյալներ հայ մինչքրիստոնեական հավատալիքներում։”

  51. Haro said:

    Thanks Stepan Sargsyan for your help on the references.
    Daron, you can find lots of other resources scattered in Armenian literature on the subject. One obvious evidence is the existence of Սասնոյ Ծռերը (Sasno Dzere) folklore tale, which neither Persians have, nor Greeks nor Romans. But only Armenians have preserved somehow in the tale that is taught to first graders even to this days. Of course, the tale content is not the relevance in point, but mere existence of it is indeed a simple prove that Mihr was much stronger and more ancient in Armenian Highland than any other places. Concerning Vrej Nersessyan’s literature. He is very much in line with me that Christianity is much older than Jesus of Nazarene, and its origin is neither Egypt nor Jerusalem. It came from the North, namely Gomagene and Tigrangert. Around 300 AD, there are also some existing references between Coptic and Armenians. Look into the Coptic Christianity for further details.

  52. Dino Ajemian said:

    This such a hot topic that this entire page has been swiped and put on the barbarians web portal barbarianforum.com. I have a concise view as to who is Armenian. Anyone who is for historic Armenia to be populated by Armenian speaking Armenians and only Armenians is an Armenian. Now can we go on to regime change before the morans running Armenia give all of liberated Artsakh to the rabid dogs living to the east of us.

  53. Armen said:

    I am Armenian born in the Diaspora.
    Besides my Armenian name,
    I am born in an Armenian family,
    Studied in an Armenian school,
    and attended Armenian Sunday school/church, as far as my memory goes.
    Upon graduating from secondary school, I had to continue my studies in a non-Armenian school, since there are no Armenian colleges or universities where I live.
    The sudden change in environment, I have to admit, was a challenge. A challenge in every way: my morals, identity, armenianism, and Christian values…all of which I had acquired from my parents, school and church were put to test.
    Those years in post graduate studies were, besides building my future, affecting on my past weather I wanted or not.
    Sooner than later, I realized: « Although the fast-changing, globalizing and moral forgetting society we now live in deeply affects us, I decide how it will influence me». And so does each and every other Armenian brother and sister of mine, whether he is light or dark skinned, hairy or short, illiterate or even unable to speak our mother tongue.
    Motivated by personal interest, I have studied Armenian history. As an ardent reader of Armenian history I was very surprised by many statements, in the original column and in the responses, which are nowhere to be found in any history book. I don’t mean to offend anyone but I was very confused…how can these statements be made so with such certainty.
    There is something that surprised me even more.
    I understand that there is a some confusion...since we live in a pretty confused society. But what I couldn’t believe as I read through the responses is how much our people have strayed from the One, single truth, to whom our forefathers held so deeply. No, I do not claim that someone is not Armenian, because he is not Apostolic-Orthodox and is, instead, Hindu, Muslim or anything else. But I distance myself from the relativism this world teaches…and so if I meet a Hindu Armenian, after getting to know him, I will try to bring him back to our mother church…in which we lived for centuries and for whom we have also died. By died, I mean died. For example, in the year 707, when the Arabs invaded and conquered Armenia and much of the middle-east, the Arab general Vogba invited the Armenian nakharars to Gasm, Nakhitchevan, making them think that it was for peaceful purposes. Upon their arrival and assembly in two of the city’s churches, Vogba gave the order to seal all the entrances. The helpless nakharars were given the option to denounce their faith turning to Islam and be freed, but they bravely rejected, instead choosing to remain in the churches as they were burned to the ground. The historian Stepanos Orpelian puts the number of martyrs in each church at about 800.(Azkabadoum-National History,Archbishop Maghakia Ormanian, Vol.1,pages 803-804,section 547). (Jirair, on November 23, you  stated that the Arabs did not try to convert us to Islam, I suggest you read the rest of this section in Azkabadoum. Very interesting).
    As you all know, the rest of our history is quite similar.
    Why did our forefathers and mothers prefer death than an easy life in conversion? Some might say that it’s a question of protecting our identity. That is true, but not the whole story. If the Armenian people converted to Christianity in order to spare their lives, as some said unfoundedly in their response, then likewise they would easily convert to yet another religion, in order to again save their lives. So what was it that kept our parents Christian? It’s a very hard and complex question which I don’t know if anyone can answer with mere words. So I will cite from the Arab Invasion of Armenia written by Ghevont Badmitch (Historian) (725-790 C.E.) ;
    «The ancient Armenian historians compare this to when the three young jews were thrown into the fiery furnace of the babylonians and in the mouths of the nakharars they repeat the canticle of the three jews “Blessed are you o Lord and God of our fathers and worthy of praise” (Daniel 3:19-23).»

               Is this truth, or mere myth? One thing is for sure, even thought the nakharars had such a courageous confession and death, it does not necesserelly imply that they were all practicing Christians, or even believers. But when sure death anounced itself and the doors and windows to this world were all shut tight, they turned to the only door that still glittered with some hope…to the one who once said:«I am the door of the sheep…the way, the truth and the life» (John 10:7,14:6)


    Sorry if I took more of your time then usual with my long response. I felt I had to write, since I consider each and every armenian armenian, whatever be the circumstances he was born in.
    If you are asking yourselves “Ok, they were bravely martyred, but what is the point? If they entered from the door of truth and life, where did it take them?
    Instead of answering, I prefer to give you the key the door. A key that resisted rusting and thieves for many centuries, being covered with the protective blood of our people. The key, dear brothers and sisters, is Faith. The faith they had and passed down to us.
                In conclusion, what’s important is if one considers himself Armenian. If he does, then he also considers himself a child of Katch Vartan(Mamigonean).
    And if anyone is a child of Vartan, then that person also shares his parents.
    Let’s not forget Vartan’s response to the Persians: “ We have only one mother, the Holy church, and one father, the Asdouadzashounch (Bible, literally-breath of God)”

  54. Dino Ajemian said:

    An Armenian can not be a Hindu. You have to be born into it. There are real Armenians who believe the impossible can be possible and then there are the naysayers, traitors, turk lovers, protocol cheerleaders, turkish culture lovers who wish to hypnotise nationalist Armenians and make them drink their coolaid. If you dont think Armenian aspirations are possible thats fine and dandy, but you should assimilate at the speed of light because the Nation does not need you. Seek the pleasures that western life gives you and keep your noses out of Hye Tahd.

  55. Patricia Constantinian said:

    Dino, have you by any chance heard of the Armenian Aryan movement?  If you haven’t you should look into it because your rhetoric is very similar to theirs.  You’d probably find some people who think the way you do.  There’s an entire topic area on one internet site that’s dedicated to glorifying Hitler.  I find it so strange that Armenians would do this, since Hitler was actually inspired by the Armenian Genocide to go ahead and commit his own atrocities.  These so-called ultra-nationalist Armenian Aryans should be ashamed of themselves.  They bring nothing but shame to our nation.

    • Dino Ajemian said:

      To Patricia:
       Seriously, I think you have to be disturbed if you think I am a hitler lover out of my post above yours about an Armenian can not be a hindu. You have a problem focusing on what has been written and thus unable to give a cogent response to what has been presented.   You don’t like my opinions, that’s swell, but you are incapable of having an intelligent conversation. I say the sky is blue, your response is no, it’s tuesday. Obviously you are not a serious person.
      Let me make it clear to you where I stand in politics and religion: I am a libertarian socialist and a secular humanist. What are you Patty?

  56. Patricia Constantinian said:

    Oh, and one other point.  If you so resent the “pleasures of western life”, why are you living in California and not Urfa or Kharpert or even Stepanakert, for that matter?

    • Dino Ajemian said:

               I have no resentment toward the pleasures of western life. Just out of curiosity, is English your first language? You are just not keeping up with the prose. I encourage those who for some crazy reason STILL think they are Armenian whilst possessing not one iota of desire for Hye Tahd to get on that couch in the burbs of philly or wherever, watch that TV, eat junk food, gain weight, tweet, facebook on subjects like reconciling being an atheist and an Armenian, etcetera.  😉  That is far better then participating with Armenians who care about Hye Tahd. 
              You don’t care about Hye Tahd Patricia. That’s OK. But why bloviate? It took me sometime to figure you out.  The Armenian world has passed you by because your ideas are not about Armenia but about assimilating. You went into hyperdrive to assimilate in the last few years. Good for you, however, you want every Armenian to think like you…. you want all Armenians to give up and assimilate. I show you a mirror and you hate what you see. And you wildly attack. You have given up being an active participant in Armenian diasporan life (I have explained it to you in past posts) and you find it pyschologically problematic ( I could use the right term but I won’t) to do it alone. 
           I know you want to have the world listen to you about your reasons for assimilating. Nobody cares except me. I’m just a good samaritan to let you see the light and help you get to where you are going real fast. Continue assimilating, my dear, it’s for the good of the Armenian nation that you do. I can give you counseling pro bono to ease you into that sweet release of total assimilation. Just consider me the jack kevorkian of those at the end of their Armenian cultural lives that need that extra “help”.
      Long Live Armenia! May the Armenian cause yield everlasting fruit! May the memories of the defeated enemies of the Armenian people be consigned to oblivion!

      • Armen said:

        @ Dino; from Armen:
        If anyone is a dinosaur in thought, it is those that think like you – and I grant that you are in a majority. But I’ll remind you too, lest you get too comfortable in your blanket of superiority, that in that majority of haters, you, as an Armenian (Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant) will be turned out of that club and shunned for being “different”.
        Since when has being at the end of one’s ethnic cultural life been a standard for euthenasia? You’re just trying to be poetic (and not very good at it, I might add)! Instead of worrying about past glories, people should be thinking about how to advance the human race into the future (and that is my idealism).
        You know Dino, one could eradicate every person from the planet but the Chinese (all of the Western Hemisphere depopulated, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Russia, Near East, all the Asian races…), leave just the 1 billion Chinese, and the human race would not skip a beat. Armenians, like their language, are a dead end. As long as we can get some of our genes passed on to the next human race, we should consider ourselves lucky.
        By trying, hoping, and clawing at some ideal of a past glory you seem to think Armenia once had in the past, you are slipping down a slope that is a bottomless abyss.
        The future is not going to be decided or perservered by cultural groups. In my opinion, it will either be a religious (all hail allah, yahweh, or the all-mighty dollar!) or (hopefully) some new meme that is based on being human only.
        Until an ideological natural selection weeds out those that think along the lines you think, the rest of us have to suffer through listening to your putrid and regurgitated ideas.
        Good riddance.

        • Papken Hartunian said:

          “Armenians, like their language, are a dead end.”
          I don’t believe in  using offensive language against anyone, even against my worst enemy. Using such language brings one down rather than up. However, when one like you allows himself to make such gross hate speech about my language or my nation, I feel stand up and smash his head.  I will give you opportunity to retract your hate speech within 30 days. I will write to the editor of this publication to remove your offensive comment from the paper and disallowed you from making more  comments. Also, I suggest change your name or your alias. You don’t deserve it.

          • Patricia Constantinian said:

            How fascinating that a more realistic view of the place of Armenia and Armenians in the world is so despised by some. I don’t consider Armen’s comments to be hateful at all. In fact, once more folks grieve the past, perhaps something can be done to transcend the impact of the Genocide and  preserve what we can of our heritage and language for the future. One of the worst effects of the Genocide, in my opinion, is the fact that Armenians (especially those in the Diaspora) feel obligated to spend their precious time and energy preoccupied with their identity, its formation, its preservation, its definition, its propagation, its projection into the future, etc.  There’s no room for a plurality of ideas, for productive dialog, for process.  This preoccupation, in my opinion, will be the main force behind our eventual disintegration.

          • Papken Hartunian said:

            “There’s no room for a plurality of ideas, for productive dialog, for process.  This preoccupation, in my opinion, will be the main force behind our eventual disintegration.”
            What process do you have in your mind?  You are not authorized and perhaps you are not qualified to speak for any other Armenian. Therefore, do not use pronoun “we.”
            Armenians are now united more than ever.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t able to survive amongst our ancient enemies. There are more than 50 political parties in Armenia and there are more than handful of them in diaspora. Although, they have differences in their platforms, when the national interest of Armenians is at issue they all speak in one voice.

          • Patricia Constantinian said:

            What I have in mind is process itself; process as implicitly meaningful.  I think what you are referring to as “unity” is at its core a demand by some for uniformity or homogeneity.  Could you please state what gives you the authority or qualification to demand that someone retract his opinion from Azbarez?  Who needs a nation with 50 political parties when there is no room for basic freedom of speech?

  57. Patricia Constantinian said:

    Dino.  Perhaps your version of the “Armenian world” has passed me by, but that doesn’t really upset me, since it’s a world of “either/or”‘s.  It’s much harder, actually, to do “both/and”, to work at preserving a sense of identity while accepting and grieving over what is lost and will never be again the way it once was. While it’s interesting and clearly evident that you have looked me up and read my other writings, I have not found it necessary to go beyond your posts in the various parts of Asbarez.  Aren’t you the same Dino Ajemian who wrote elsewhere that you like Jesus, and that he’s your favorite Jew?  Who are the “barbarians” you repeatedly speak of?  See what I mean, Dino?  English is actually my language of education and I’m able to read not just text but context, what’s written, how it’s written, and and what’s implied or intimated.  And, yes, I’ve arrived at a working hypothesis about you through these exchanges, and your other writings, and I believe that your rhetoric resonnates with that of an unfortunate and growing movement of extreme nationalism among Armenians, a branch of which happens to idolize Hitler.  And in terms of being able to read and think critically, was it not you who praised Mr. Pat’s recent rant about Armenian women as “pure genius, a literary marvel for the ages”?

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  59. Jirair Momjian said:

    Being proud of one’s origins, nation, country, and compatriotes is natural and a must. All nations do it. Why not us, Armenians. Here is what I mean …

    Copper Wires
    Having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, French scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 200 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 150 years ago.

    Not to be outdone by the French, American archaeologists dug to a depth of 20 feet before finding traces of copper wire. Shortly afterwards they published an article in the New York Times saying : “American archaeologists, having found traces of 250-year-old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 50 years earlier than the French.”

    A few weeks later ‘The British Archaeological Society of Northern England’ reported the following: “After digging down to a depth of 33 feet in the Skipton area of North Yorkshire in 2011, Charlie Hardcastle, a self-taught local amateur archaeologist, reported that he had found absolutely bugger all. Charlie has therefore concluded that 250 years ago, Britain had already gone wireless.”

    Just makes you proud to be British.