- Turks are getting ready for a hot election in March when they will cast their
ballot to elect a new parliament and, for the first time, a new president.
Almost certainly, Sunni ethics will certainly inform the debate. Not much
coverage has gone to a conference held in early November on
the forced islamisation of Armenians before and after the 1915 genocide.
Istanbul's Boğaziçi University and the Hrant Dink Foundation, which is named
after Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, the editor of the
bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos.
He was assassinated in 2007 by Turkish nationalists with the tolerance of
elements within the Turkish state.
Although some 600
people from around the world attended the conference, the Turkish media failed
to give the event the attention it deserved.
presentations, various speakers noted that forced Islamisation was not visited
only on individual children and women survivors but on entire families forced
to convert in order to survive in the new Turkey born out of the ashes of the Ottoman
The founding of
the new Turkish Republic was premised on the policies of Islamisation and
genocide pursued by the Young Turks and the Committee of Union and Progress. This
occurred after Armenian members of the Young Turks and the Committee split from
ethnic Turks in 1913.
Based on various
reports, the goal of the Committee of Union and Progress in 1915 was to reduce
the Armenian population (5 to 10 per cent of the empire's population) where it
had its strongest and oldest roots - the central, southern and eastern regions
of the Ottoman Empire - since its aim was to establish a new Turkey that would
be Sunni Muslim. Even Kemal Ataturk, founder of Turkey's so-called secular
republic, appealed to Muslim solidarity to consolidate his power. In short, a
real Turk was a Muslim Turk.
surprisingly, after the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), Turkish-speaking Orthodox Christians
known as Karamanlis were uprooted from Anatolia and sent to Greece.
Taner Akçam, who teaches at Clark University in the United States, is one of
the foremost specialist on the Armenian Genocide. In his address, he spoke of
200,000 Islamised Armenians, noting that the assets of the genocide victims went
to the Turks.
focused on a very important issue. Because of forced islamisation, millions of
Turks have ties to the Armenian and/or Christian communities.
Some call them 'crypto-Armenians' or 'crypto-Christians;.
In her lecture, French
sociologist Laurence Ritter presented research showing that 100 years
after the Armenian Genocide, the descendants of Islamised Armenian survivors,
the so-called crypto-Armenians of Anatolia, are beginning to break their
Ayşe Gül Altınay,
who teaches at Sabanci University, a private college in Istanbul, said that Hrant
Dink, the murdered editor of the Istanbul-based Turkish-Armenian newspaper Armenian
Agos, back in 2004 called for the
Armenian Genocide to be revisited in light of the descendants of Islamised
Ayşe Gül Altınay
and Fethiye Çetin edited a book, The
Grandchildren, released in 2007, in which they note that the Turkish state
knew about the ethnic make-up of the population. Contrary to the official ideology,
Turks were not as homogenous as the government wanted them to be.
In light of
these steps, Turkey is beginning to question its true character and the
multi-ethnic nature of its population.