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Unfinished Agendas of Radical Islam: Case 2 – Armenia and Turkey

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Unfinished Agendas of Radical Islam: Case 2 – Armenia and Turkey
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Turkey and Armenia are another case of an Unfinished Partition. But Turkey is also a case of how even a secular Muslim state is no better in treating its non-Muslim minorities than an Islamic state is. Turkey is guilty of committing the first great genocide of the 20th century, namely the Armenian Genocide in which 1.5 million Armenian Christians were killed by Turkish Muslims and the Turkish State. [1]

Armenia in History

Armenia is an ancient country situated just to the north of the Fertile Crescent, abutting the beautiful Caucasus Mountains. Due to its geographical location it has been at too many crossroads. It lies at the boundary of Asia and Europe. And historically it has always been caught in the crossfires of many empires: between Christian Russian Empire to its north and the Seljuk and Turkish Ottomans to the South; between Safavid Shia Iran to its East and between the Sunni Ottoman Turkey to the West. This unfortunate fact of geography has made it a punching bag of greater and more ruthless religions and powers. Just like Poland, Armenia was ‘God’s Playground’ through most of its history.

Yerevan, the current capital of Armenia has been inhabited for more than two thousand years. The sacred center for all Armenians has always been Mount Ararat, which lies just near Yerevan. Like every other nation in the world, the Armenians were pagan once with their spiritual life centered around Mount Ararat, which was celebrated as the place of their origin. Their ancestral religion was not very different from Zoroastrianism, though they also worshipped many other gods along with the Fire God.

Armenia holds the curious distinction of being the first Christian State in the world. It was Christianized in 301 CE, almost three decades before Constantine made Roman Empire Christian. Even after converting to Christianity, Armenia preserved many of its pagan traditions, like worshipping Mount Ararat as their sacred origin, which was essentially a pagan practice. Mount Ararat remained central to every Armenian, even after conversion to Orthodox Christianity.

Armenia is Divided between two Islamic Powers

After the advent of Islam, it became increasingly difficult for Armenia to defend its territory, its religions and its traditions but it kept its Christian character alive by paying Jizyah tax under the Umayyad Caliphate. It once again kept alternating between independence and serving under some great powers, most of which were now Islamic. Thus it suffered under the Seljuk Turks, under the Mongols and the Ottoman Turks.

In the 16th century, Armenian lands were divided into two parts. Eastern Armenia was controlled by the Shia Persia and the Western Armenia, the larger part, was controlled by Sunni Ottoman Turkey. More significantly, Mount Ararat, the sacred center of all Armenia went under the occupation of Ottoman Sunni Turkey. Under these occupations Armenia suffered heavy persecution with its people massacred, expelled and converted to Islam regularly.

In the early 19th century, Eastern Armenia was annexed by Russia from Persia. There was much oppression under Russia too, but as the Russians were also Orthodox Christians, Armenian religion became safe in Eastern Armenia. This would prove to be crucial and a safe haven for all Armenians in future.

For Western Armenia, unfortunately the misery continued under the Sunni Ottoman Empire. Anti-Christian pogroms, rape of Armenian women and many other communal crimes continued under the Sunni Muslim rule of Ottoman Turkey. Coming close to modern times, in 1896, Ottoman Sultan Hamid II ordered mass massacres of Armenian Christians killing around three lakh of them. This was a precursor of the Armenian Genocide to come. [2]

Armenia under ‘New Turkey’

What was even more significant that the mass massacre of Armenians continued even after the government of Sultan Hamid II fell and a new Turkey rose to power in a revolution called ‘Young Turk Revolution’ in 1908. This ‘new Turkey’ was supposed to be more modern, less medieval in approach and more tolerant to its Christian minorities. However, in the very next year of 1909, the Adana Massacre happened in which more than 30,000 Armenian Christians were brutally massacred by Turkish Muslims. If this was the flavor of ‘new Turkey’, things were not hopeful in future. [3]

When the World War I started, Turkey was fighting alongside the Germans. As soon as the War started Turkey started killing off its Christian minorities, the largest of which were the Armenians. The excuse was the most common one that the Islamic countries give while massacring their non-Muslim minorities: that they were siding with the enemies of the Islamic State.

There were significant number of Greek Orthodox and other smaller non-Muslim minorities in the country, all of which came under fire from the Islamists and the marauding Islamic mobs. During the War, regular pogroms against non-Muslims were carried out. Christian women were raped, children were killed and mass massacres of Christians by common Muslims were the norm of the day. In the fog of World War I, nobody paid any attention towards what the Turkish Muslims were doing to their Christian minorities.

Many of them, mostly males, were directly massacred, and women and children were told to march on foot to the Syrian desert. While on march, these Christian Armenian women were raped by soldiers and by common Muslims; children were massacred; the marchers were denied any water or food and thus almost all of them perished while walking on foot. As the War ended and Turkey lost, some hoped that the massacres would end, but it was a false hope. The massacres continued.

The Russian armies, mainly led by Armenians from Eastern Armenia managed to capture most of the Western Armenia which was suffering under the Turkish Muslim yoke. But fate had a lot more pain in store for Armenia. Out of the blue, the Russian Empire itself fell and Bolsheviks under Lenin came to power in the October coup. Lenin was bogged down in the Civil War and in order to show solidarity with the Islamic world, he never even tried to lay a claim to Western Armenia.

In 1920, the Western powers woke up to the Armenian Genocide and pledged to attach Western Armenian territories too to the new Republic of Armenia. However, the ‘new Turkey’ which was overtly singing the secular tune was in no mood of that and it promptly annexed all of Western Armenian lands in 1920 and the genocide of Armenian Christians continued until 1923. In total, around 1.5 million Armenian Christians were massacred in this first great genocide of 20th century. [4] Half of this genocide happened under ‘new Turkey’ which had already started to profess secularism, both in politics and society.

Turkey, a Land of Pure Islam

Turkish leaders had realized that the time of the Islamic Caliphate had finally come to an end and it will have to abandon its non-Muslim colonies. Turkey’s game in all this defeat was to carve for itself a Turkish heartland of pure Islam, containing nothing but Muslims.

The Caliphate was formally abolished in 1924, but it had already become a puppet in the hands of the military generals who had excelled in the First World War. The greatest of these leaders was Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who was later to become the Supreme leader of ‘secular Turkey’. Since 1920, it was certain that the Caliphate would be abolished and a ‘secular state’ would be created. During this overt pursuit of ‘secularism’, the would-be secular state of Turkey massacred and ethnically cleansed all of its non-Muslim minorities. Today, Turkey is one of the most complete Muslim countries in the world, with having a Muslim majority of 99.45%, greater than that of Pakistan.

For Muslims, even in Turkey, secularism was possible only when the last Christian was dead, when the last non-Muslim was massacred. The later secularism was just a political ploy to keep the more troublesome Islamic leaders in control.

The West remained silent as it was itself in great trouble. The interwar years were fraught with poverty and political tensions as two new threats, that of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia were on its threshold. After the Second World War Turkey became a member of NATO, acting as a bulwark against Soviet Union, and so with the help of the U.S. its crimes against humanity and its genocide of Armenian Christian were whitewashed from history.

How Armenia lost its Most Sacred Symbol

What is even more tragic is that even Eastern Armenia was annexed by Communist Soviet Union and suffered heavily under the communist rule. However, as its religious profile was not altered, when Armenia once again became independent in 1989, it maintained its character as a Christian country.

But tragically, all of Western Armenia was annexed by Turkey in 1920 and all Armenian Christians were massacred, converted or exiled. Thus the morning never came for Western Armenia and the Armenian nation, not only lost about half of its population but more than half of its historical territory too, for always. All of Western Armenia is now completely Islamized with no hope of any revival in future.

What is most tragic is that Turkey kept Mount Ararat in its own territory, even though it is just at the border. The sacred center of all Armenia, the spiritual pivot of Armenia is no longer in Armenia! How tragic is that! Yerevan, the Armenian capital is just at the border, for precisely this reason, so that every Armenian can look wistfully at Mount Ararat, just across the border, in Muslim Turkey, which had killed half of Armenians in the genocide. Can the situation be any more tragic?

It was entirely possible that the almost uninhabited mountain region of Mount Ararat, which is just a few kilometers from the border, could be gifted to Armenia. Turkey had no use of it and radical Islam considers worshipping nature as heresy. In Turkey Mount Ararat can best be neglected with apathy and at worst can be destroyed with impunity. But radical Islam is not known for the generosity of heart. And thus, the sad situation is that all Armenians can only wistfully look at Mount Ararat, never knowing if the mountain itself will be desecrated by Turkey in future.

The Case of Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenia’s woes do not end here. Eastern Armenia of history contained mainly two provinces, the one centered at Yerevan and another centered at Karabakh. When Eastern Armenia became free again in 1990, its eastern province, Nagorno-Karabakh was left as an exclave inside the Shia Muslim country of Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian Christian region is surrounded by Muslim Azerbaijan from all sides.

Azerbaijan also has an exclave of Nakhchivan, but it is surrounded by Armenia on one side and Turkey on the other. While the Muslim exclave of Nakhchivan was given to Muslim Azerbaijan and is legally a part of it, Nagorno-Karabakh was never given to Armenia and is still legally a part of Azerbaijan. What is more tragic is that when Armenia tries to support this ancient region of its civilization, Muslim Azeris thwart its designs and when it tries to use the Muslim exclave of Nakhichevan as leverage Turkey threatens it with military reprisals and Armenia is once again left in the cold.

Is Secularism possible in a Muslim State?

Many Western scholars now maintain that secularism is just an outgrowth of Christian culture and carries on many Christian attitudes, couched in neutral modern terminology. Similarly, the ‘secularism of Turkey’ was just a method to keep its more troublesome mullahs in check AFTER all non-Muslims in the country were either dead, converted or exiled. ‘Secular Turkey’ always took great care to keep the religious composition of the new ‘secular state’ close to 100% Muslim.

Turkey has a lot more blood on its hands other than that of Armenian Christians. Many Greek Orthodox Christians, Greek Catholics and other smaller sects of Eastern Orthodoxy suffered genocide along with the Armenians. In 1923, after a lot of massacres, Turkey expelled more than 12 lakh Greek Christians to Greece in exchange for a few Muslims left there. Another ethnic cleansing was complete.

The French Mandate after the First World War included the present day Syria, Lebanon and also the province of Antakya. The city of Antakya is ancient Antioch and housed many Christian communities. It was also annexed by ‘secular Turkey’ in 1939. Then in 1974, Turkey just simply invaded the island of Cyprus and created a pure Muslim state of Turkish Cyprus on its northern shores. All Greek Christian Cypriots were ethnically cleansed from this Turkish states. All of this, to repeat, was done by ‘secular Turkey’.

It proves that there is no such thing as a ‘secular Muslim state’, until a majority of its inhabitants publicly declare atheism. Turkish Secularism is a smokescreen. The Islamic State always keep bubbling beneath the surface, beneath the thin veneer of ‘secularism’. What the case of Turkey and Armenia teaches us is that even a single non-Muslim left in an Islamic state is perceived as an existential threat to the Islamic Theocratic State; and hence even that last non-Muslim has to be killed or converted to Islam.

Secularism, like all other rights in an Islamic State, can only be extended to fellow Muslims. The non-Muslim, the hated Kaffir has never had and never will have any true rights under a Muslim state, whether secular or Islamic.

REFERENCES

  1. Jones, Sophia. “100 Years Ago, 1.5 Million Christian Armenians Were Systematically Killed. Today, It’s Still Not A ‘Genocide'”. Huffpost US. Published 23/04/2015.
  2. Adalian, Rouben Paul. Historical Dictionary of Armenia. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow. 2010, p. 154.
  3. Raymond H. Kévorkian, “The Cilician Massacres, April 1909” in Armenian Cilicia. UCLA Armenian History and Culture Series: Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces, 7. Mazda Publishers, 2008, p. 339-69.
  4. Lewis, Martin. “The Many Armenian Diasporas, Then and Now”. GeoCurrents. February 6, 2012.
  5. Giuseppe Motta. Less than Nations: Central-Eastern European Minorities after WW I. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2013, p. 365.

Featured Image: LA Times

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.
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Pankaj Saxena

Pankaj Saxena is a scholar of History, Hindu Architecture and Literature. He has visited more than 400 sites of ancient Hindu temples and photographed the evidence. He has been writing articles, research papers and reviews in various print and online newspapers and magazines. He currently works as the Asst. Professor, Centre for Indic Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad. He has authored three books so far. He maintains a blog at http://literaryfalcon.wordpress.com/