Armenians, Raised as Muslims, Baptized in Diyarbakir

A scene from the inaugural Mass at Diyarbakir church

DIYARBAKIR—A group of Armenians, raised as Sunni Muslims because their ancestors converted to Islam after the Armenian Genocide, were reportedly baptized Monday at the newly re-opened Surp Giragos Church, reported Hurriyet Daily News.

“I wish this church had always been open,” Gaffur Türkay, one of the group to be baptized, who also contributed to the restoration of the church, told Hurriyet. “It is unbelievable to be together here with people from all around the world with whom I share the same origins.”

Istanbul’s Deputy Patriarch Aram Ateshian was scheduled to officiate at the baptismal ceremony, which was held behind closed doors and was not open to the press. The newspaper reported that the names of those baptized would not be publicized due to security concerns.

Hurriyet also caught of with Turkish-born Archbishop Vicken Ayvazian, who was representing the Eastern US Diocese of the Armenian Church.

“We used to have over 2,600 churches and monasteries across Anatolia in the past. Unfortunately, only a handful of sanctuaries remain. My request from Turkey as a spiritual leader is for churches to be returned to the [Armenian] community, rather than reopening them for religious service as museums,” Archbishop Ayvazian told Hürriyet.

He also told Hurriyet that “there was a Genocide,” saying an acknowledgement of the fact can be a step toward the right direction.

Used as a command center for German officers during the First World War, the church was then used as an apparel depot by the state-owned Sümerbank until 1950. The church was then handed back to the Armenian community, following a long legal battle, reported Hurriyet.


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  1. Gary_S said:

    There are many Turks who think they are Turks are Armenian, Greek, Kurdish, and Assryians. To be 100% Turk in Turkey, they have to be Asiatic looking (Mongol). How did these Turks become Caucasoid? Forced conversions!
    When I saw the earthquake victims at Van (Armenian city). I saw many Armenian and Kurdish looking people–their ancestors were one of those ethnic groups. I didn’t see anyone that looked like a Mongol (Turk).

  2. bigmoustache said:

    words cant describe the joy at seeing our community finally take a step forward. its hard to hear that armenians in turkey cant organize, im sure they would if the state didnt harrass them as much

  3. Araxi said:

    Հրաշալի է: Փառք Աստծո: Արդարութեան վերածնունդ:

  4. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    As an Armenian
    We never had such problems in the Arab world …
    Turks are not Muslims
    Are Turks
    And will stay Turks
    Religion is not a faith
    Humanity is
    Turks should know that…
    Arab Poet, Assad Rustom said,
    “The sons of Turks you are never Muslims, May 1916 “

  5. Vzgo said:

    It is Turkey’s honorable duty to find ways to apologise to the Armenians about the genocide their ancestors under the name of Ottoman empire commited That way the whole world will come to an understanding That turkey of the day has become a noble country . People make mistakes as the Nazist s under Hitle did. and the German people apologized and Life went on between Israel and Germany.
    Turkey , with it’s falce propaganda and endless lies to cover up the genocide and furthermore blaming the Armenians who defending themselves and doing everything to stay alive and save and rescue whatever and whoever was left to save after the 1.5 million were killed . Shamefully Turkey calling it civil war and trators and brainwashing their young ones with falce history , only make things worse for themselves because all of the above is documented all over the world Including turkish Journalists of the time and their allies the German journalists by tens of tens of journalist and newspapers of the time with real photographs
    Is turkey havbe a new meaning for the word Civil war when a government kills it’s own people and call it war??
    Who is kidding who

  6. Stepan said:

    This is a remarkable story to think that the connections remained to convert after skipping a generation.
    Another example that the discussion on western Armenia will not go away.May God Bless these people!

  7. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    This says something very positive about Turkey and the Turks. There is hope that one day we’ll celebrate our closeness to each other as filial co-citizens.
    There is nothing more joyful than celebrating our original selves as Turks, Kurds and Armenians in the same country that was once used to kill us because we were Armenians.
    I always dream of forging an independent nation of Armenia and Kurdistan, something like a federation where both nations can live side by side and benefit from each other’s contribution to the common cause of shoring up a viably independenct homeland for both.