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The Islamized Armenians and Us

Reflections on a Groundbreaking Conference in Istanbul

In early November, the Hrant Dink Foundation held a conference on “Islamicized Armenians” at the Istanbul Bosphorus University, breaking one more taboo in Turkey. Islamicized Armenians were hitherto a hidden reality, a secret known by many, but which couldn’t be revealed to anyone, whispered behind closed doors but filed in government intelligence offices, and it finally broke free into the public.

The late Hrant Dink would have been elated to see this conference become a reality, eight years after the first conference on “Armenians during the late Ottoman Empire era and the 1915 events” was held at Istanbul Bilgi University, when protesters hurled insults at the conference participants and government ministers labelled them as “traitors stabbing Turks in the back.” That conference had also broken a taboo, but Hrant was already a marked man for revealing the identity of the most famous Islamicized Armenian—Sabiha Gokcen, Ataturk’s adopted daughter and the first female Turkish combat pilot, who was an Armenian orphan named Hatun Sebilciyan.

It is a known fact that in 1915, tens of thousands of Armenian orphans were forcibly Islamicized and Turkified; that tens of thousands of Armenian girls and young women were captured by Kurds and Turks as slaves, maids, or wives; that tens of thousands Armenians converted to Islam to escape the deportations and massacres; and that tens of thousands of Armenians found shelter in friendly Kurdish and Alevi villages, but lost their identity. What happened to these survivors, these living victims of the 1915 genocide? Hrant was obsessed with them: “We keep talking about the ones ‘gone’ in 1915. Let us start talking about the ones who ‘remained.’”

These remaining people survived, but mostly in living hells. Remarkably, their children and grandchildren are now “coming out,” are no longer hiding their Armenian roots. One of the first was the famous Turkish lawyer Fethiye Cetin, who revealed that her grandmother was Armenian, in her book My Grandmother. This was followed by another book edited by Aysegul Altinay and Fethiye Cetin, titled The Grandchildren, about dozens of Turkish/Kurdish people describing their Armenian roots, without revealing their real identities. Then came the reconstruction of the Surp Giragos Armenian Church in Diyarbakir/Dikranagerd, which became a destination for many hidden Armenians in Eastern Anatolia. On average, over a hundred people visit the church daily, most of them hidden Armenians. Some come to pray, get baptized, or married, but most just visit to feel Armenian, without converting back to Christianity.

This has created a new identity of Muslim Armenians, in addition to the historical and traditional identity of Christian Armenians. In a country where only Muslim Turks can work for the government, where being non-Muslim is sufficient excuse for persecution, harassment and attacks, where the word Armenian is used as the biggest insult, it takes real courage for someone to reveal that he is now an Armenian and no longer a Turk/Kurd/Muslim. People can easily lose their jobs, livelihood, or even lives for changing their identity. As an example of the level of racism and discrimination in the country, an ultra-nationalist opposition member of parliament years ago accused Turkish President Abdullah Gul of having Armenian roots in his family from Kayseri. Gul sued her for defamation, and the courts sided with him, ordering her to pay compensation for such an insult.

It is difficult to estimate the number of Islamicized Armenians in Turkey, and even more difficult to predict what proportion of them are aware of their Armenian roots, or how many are willing to regain their Armenian identity. Based on independent studies of the 1915 events, one can conclude that more than 100,000 orphans were forcibly Islamicized/Turkified, and that another 200,000 Armenians survived by converting to Islam or by finding shelter in friendly Kurdish and Alevi regions. It is therefore conceivable that 300,000 souls survived as Muslims. The population of Turkey has increased seven fold since then; using the same multiple, one can extrapolate that there may be two million people with Armenian roots in Turkey today, originating from the 1915 survivors. There were even more widespread conversions to Islam during the 1894-96 massacres, when entire villages were forcibly Islamicized. A couple centuries before, Hamshen Armenians were Islamicized in northeast Anatolia. The Muslim Hamshentsis, numbering about 500,000, speak a dialect based on Armenian, but had never identified themselves as Armenian, until recently. Adding all these forced conversions prior to and during 1915, one can conclude that the number of people with Armenian roots in present-day Turkey reaches several million. (The numbers are difficult to accurately estimate, but in any case, they easily exceed the present population of Armenia.)

The reality is that the secrets of “Armenianness” whispered for three or four generations after 1915 are now becoming loud revelations of new identities. As evidenced in the recent conference, even Hamshen Armenians have started exploring and reclaiming their long lost roots. During the reconstruction of the Surp Giragos Church and in my travels in eastern and southeastern Anatolia, one out of every three Kurds that I met had an Armenian grandmother in the family. This fact, hidden until recently, is now revealed openly, often leading young generations to reclaim their Armenian identities, but without giving up Islam. One interesting observation is that the hidden Armenians were aware of other hidden ones and all attempted to intermarry, resulting in many couples who ended up having Armenian roots from both parents.

The conference attracted numerous academicians, historians, and journalists from both within and outside Turkey, as well as dozens of presenters of oral history. One of the most dramatic presentations was about Sara, a 15-year-old Armenian girl from Urfa Viranshehir, who was captured by the Turkish strongman of the region, Eyup Aga. Eyup wanted to take Sara as his third wife. When Sara refused, Eyup killed her mother. When Sara refused again, Eyup killed her father. When Eyup threatened to kill Sara’s little brother, Sara couldn’t resist any more, and married the killer of her parents, on the condition that her brother be spared and she be allowed to keep her name. But her brother was also eventually killed. As she resisted Eyup’s advances, she was repeatedly raped and was pregnant 15 times, giving birth to 15 babies, who all died prematurely. Eyup constantly tortured her, even marking a cross in her body with a knife. His family also mistreated her, viewing her as an outcast, and she had a hellish life to the end. At the end of the story, the presenter, a Turkish academician, revealed that Eyup and the family who committed these crimes against Sara was her own family. Her final statement was even more dramatic than the story: “We always hear stories told by the victims. It is now time for the perpetrators to start talking about and owning their crimes.”

There are new revelations about how the Turkish government kept tabs on Islamicized Armenians. Apparently, the government kept records of every Armenian village or large Armenian clan that was forcibly Islamicized in 1915. It was recently discovered that the identification cards of hidden or known Armenians had a special numbering system to secretly identify them. There are anecdotes that a few Turkish candidates for air force pilot positions were turned away even though they qualified after rigorous tests, when government records revealed that they come from Islamicized Armenian families.

It is of greater concern to us how the Islamicized Armenians are being dealt with by Armenians. It seems that the Istanbul Armenian community and, more critically, the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate are unable or unwilling to accept the hidden Armenians coming out as Armenians, unless these people accept Christianity, get baptized, and learn to speak Armenian. But it is unrealistic to expect the new Armenians to comply with these requirements. Since Armenians in Turkey are all defined as belonging to the Armenian Church, if the newcomers are rejected by the Patriarchate, they become double outcasts, not only from their previous Muslim Turkish/Kurdish community, but also from the Armenian community, as they cannot get married, baptized, or buried by the church and cannot send their children to Armenian schools. If they have made a conscious decision to identify themselves as Armenian—a risky and dangerous initiative under the present circumstances—they should be readily accepted as Armenians, regardless of whether they stay Muslim or atheist or anything else. Relationships get even more complicated as there are now many families with one branch carrying on life as Muslim Turks/Kurds, another branch as Muslim Armenian, and a third branch as Christian Armenian. The Etchmiadzin Church in Armenia is more tolerant, and has issued the following statement: “Common ethnicity, land, language, history, cultural heritage, and religion are general measures in defining a nation. Even if one or more of these measures can be missing due to historic reasons, such as the inability to speak the language, or practice the religion, or the lack of knowledge of cultural and historic heritage, this should not be used to exclude one’s Armenian identity.” Yet, Charles Aznavour’s approach is the most welcoming: “Armenia should embrace the Islamicized Armenians and open its doors to them.”

After Armenia, Karabagh, and the Armenian Diaspora, there is now an emerging fourth Armenian world—the Islamicized Armenians of Turkey. Accepting this new reality will help both Turks and Armenians understand the realities and consequences of 1915.

109 Comments on The Islamized Armenians and Us

  1. avatar Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam) // November 15, 2013 at 11:20 am // Reply

    Armenians need a new religion/ideology: Armenism.

    • If by this you mean an open-minded, cooperative and cordial attitude toward one another, then I agree with you, Varaz Syuni.

      The potential numbers of people who would want to reclaim an Armenian identity are staggering. This is the tip of an iceberg. We should proceed with eyes wide-open to the advantages and possible conflicts that come with it, but not close our minds to the possibility that these so-called ‘Islamized’ Armenians may be integral to a just resolution to the Armenian Cause.

    • There is a saying I learned from an Albanian friend of mine when discussing the Muslim/Catholic issues in Albania. It roughly translates as “Albania is my religion”. Then again, I am a Bakvahye with a Turkish first name who primarily speaks Russian and is married to a Parskahye. So I might be biased :)

    • avatar Sergej Schellen // November 16, 2013 at 11:54 am //

      I’m currently writing a paper on the topic of Islamized Armenians and their identity (for one of my elective courses on Analyzing Identity, as part of my Master program in Conflict Resolution and Governance, in the University of Amsterdam), and am on the lookout for someone I might be able to interview in Amsterdam with direct experience of what this identity means to them. Noticing that you have your location down as Amsterdam; I thought I’d give it a shot in case you’d be interested in helping me out.
      If yes please feel free to contact me at sergej.schellen@student.uva.nl
      (Extra info: I’m a German national that grew up in Lebanon, my Alma Mater is Haigazian University)

  2. avatar Nubar Zohrabian // November 15, 2013 at 11:50 am // Reply

    The best article I have ever read in the Armenian Weely;
    Please keep on digging, certainly there are thousand more heart breaking stories about Islamicized Armenians not only in Turkey but also in the serounding countries; I myself witness the whole village in northern Iraq Islamicized were Armenians before and still were called not a comptete moslems but are called a nick name / smaller name for being Moslems; and also whole tribes that carry IAN the Armenia ID as well.

  3. It is always good to know that there are survivors, whether they be “moslem armenians” or mosques converted from our churches.

    Better than all being destroyed or going into ruin.

    But to include them as “armenian”? in the mainstream?

    They are off-shoots of the primary branch – not part of the main.

    • avatar Nairi Khandjian // November 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm //

      What is an “off-shoot” of a “primary branch”? This “primary branch” implies that being Armenian means only one thing – how is that determined? Why is that not subject to change? Identity is very fluid, and history and time shapes it differently. Armenians have a lot of difficulty with this, and understandably so, due to forced exile and conversion. Would you argue that Diasporans are also “off-shoots” because they don’t live on ancestral lands? What criteria do you use to gauge Armenian-ness? What does this say about people who are half- or quarter-Armenian and speak Armenian but don’t live in Armenia and don’t have Armenian names?

      I would argue that if we don’t accept these Armenians, then we are giving up the fight. This is exactly what the Ottoman Turks wanted – to unroot us, displace us, make us lose our connection to our identity. In a way, this newfound identity can be likened to a spiritual enlightenment. Furthermore, I would think that it is insulting to that person’s family history and ancestors who had a difficult choice to make. Just as Armenians in Armenia feel Diasporans are not Armenian is insulting to a Diasporan (because we don’t speak the same dialect or we didn’t live under USSR rule), claiming that people who are now discovering their Armenian roots are not Armenian is denying the ache and horrors that were lived by their ancestors.

      Encouraging this idea of “off-shoot” Armenians is akin to determining second-class citizens. “You’re not Armenian enough” etc.

  4. avatar annie demirjian // November 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm // Reply

    Dear Raffi, thank you so much for this excellent, reflective article. You convey clearly that the conference was very moving for all participants. I would like to believe that Armenians in Armenia and Diaspora are mature enough to start reflecting on these ‘new identity’ issues. Our tents must be big enough to accomodate all. They are us. Should we not be providing these islamized Armenians some support network – irrespective of what the church says or does? Pls count me in as a supporter to your projects in the future. annie

    • I agree Annie–I reiterate your comments to Raffi, who wrote a compelling article that provokes much reflection on identity and the essence of Armenian-ness. There is a mosaic of what it means to be an Armenian and the current socio-political times calls for such a major endeavor.

  5. religion should never be the mark by which we determine one’s
    national identity, and please let us not refer to ourselves as a race, us hayans (I did not misspell) are a group of closely related people who have mixed with a lot of other people and yes of different races, and Christianity and many other religions that our people have practiced throughout the centuries has not been the decisive factor, and nor should it be now,
    after all some day (soon I hope) the Abrahamic religions would join him in the grave and who knows what our people would worship then, hoping against all hope that they would wake up and realize that they really don’t need any religion to be descent human beings
    all you need to be a good hayan is love of our history, love for our present, and an enormous love investment to rebuild our hayan empire
    from the gulf to the Caspian to the black sea and to my favorite by far the Mediterranean
    peace and love to all the inhabitants of the planet even the one’s under the evil spell, we should all pull together to free ourselves from the bondage of destruction

  6. The next step will be to look for our lost brothers and sisters in Poland and Hungary with the Catholic faith, there should be 2 – 3 million there .
    If one should come to us wiling to accept their Armenian origin then we should accept them no matter their religious beliefs. We have to remember that we had another religion before we accepted Christianity. If we deny them then we should deny our existence as Armenians before the day we accepted Christianity in 301 or the day we accept a new religion somewhere in the future.

    • avatar wellistenow // November 27, 2013 at 9:59 am //

      I know there are some Poles and Hungarians of Armenian extract but please, 2-3 million, what are you smoking?

  7. Thank you, Raffi, for sharing this very sad story about Sara. Bravo to the woman who stood up with her public confession that it was her own family who inflicted the murder and torture. I applaud her for revealing the name of her murderous brother.
    I have been to the tea producing area of the Black Sea and met Hamsetsis. Their welcome was so warm and embracing, their pride in their Armenian ancestry apparent.
    While it is true that many countless thousands of children and adults were forcibly converted to Islam, we must not forget about the little children who were born along the caravan route and abandoned by their mothers in hopes that someone would find them and take them in. I know of two who were abandoned at Oughnout and survived. They were taken in and raised by Kurds. Their descendants still farm in the area. They know of their Armenian roots – and here is the important thing – they are proud of their roots, grateful to the ancestor who made the terrible sacrifice of leaving her newborn child in hopes it would survive, when she knew that she would not.

  8. avatar Madeleine Mezagopian // November 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm // Reply

    Christianity is crucial aspect of Armenian Culture. Christianity is the spirit not only of the Armenian Culture but of the Armenian Identity itself that features many aspects of Armenians’ daily life. One cannot be an Armenian without embracing the spirit of the Armenian Culture. Further, there is the fear of receiving Islamized Armenians without having these Armenians thought of the true spirit of Armenian Culture and with their number exceeding that of Armenia, there is big danger of hijacking Armenia from Christianity and eventually destroying Armenian Culture and Armenian Identity.

    • Madeline completely agree with you. People here are blind and think of happy reunion that will be short lived. Then muslim “armenians” will want to take over. Think if lebanon and cristian and muslim arabs. Once muslim you are a faulty machine. We lived in azerbaijan where there were a lot if azeries mixed wit armenians. These bastardly mixes were worse that 100% azeries. People here simply do not know what they are talking about. Unfortunately imported christian religion is a part of armenian culture. This religion helped to put armenians and all europeans in a disadvantagious position they are in because they now have to love their enemy. I say cut the head of your enemy. Love your family.

    • avatar hayernaser // November 16, 2013 at 6:22 am //

      hargeli somone
      you need help, a lot of help, bad people always hide behind something, to justify their criminal misbehavior and religion is a great cover, no one has the right to define what is to be armenian, if islamised armenians have the desire to return to their armenian and not christian roots then that is completely their choice, i as an ex-christian, and an ex-religious follower of any super natural philosophy am more in love with my hayanness than ever before, and my love and devotion to my ancestory, present and future of our people is greater than ever, so you and all the rest who share your view should first and foremost take a chill pill

    • avatar anitra michaelian // November 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm //

      I am Armenian, Armenian is my religion, my culture not Christianity.

  9. avatar Sylva-MD-Poetry // November 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm // Reply

    Madeleine,Which century you are living in…
    People no longer believe in Religion…
    We were Armenian before Christianity
    and we can be Armenian after and always…

    • Maybe a few can recover from muslim brainwashing. But many are forever gone. And for these few I am not willing to make an exception because not sure of the intent. You are a pacifist by looking at your poetry nick. We do not need pacifists and bohemian intellectuals. They have already presented themselves in Turkey in 1915 they and chrustian clergy prevented armenian rebellion to topple turkish government that was ready to fall. Thank intellectuals for that. We need fughters brave courageous people and our old religion back. I wish the same for all europeans to reclame their lands.

    • you are free to include whomever you wish in your definitions.

      BUT, christianity IS a major component in what is meant when one speaks of Armenians.

      And the definition of “armenian” changes – but only as accepted by those who call themselves “armenian”.

      You cannot speak for the mainstream, but only for your own views.
      As do I.

      There are armenian-armenians, lebanese-armenians, persian-armenians, etc.

      There are apostolic armenans, catholic armenians, protestant armenians.

      There are erzurumsites, vansists, etc. – when those distinctions mattered more.

      There are armenians who no longer speak armenian; and less that can read and write armenian.

      There are many who no longer consider themselves armenian, let alone know their heritage.

      Maybe someday, moslem armenians may also be included among “armenians”.

      We shall see

    • Someone,

      As I stated in the other post regarding this conference and Islamasazied Armenians, you are an ignoramus. We too were brainwashed to some degree or another when we converted to Christianity. What, you think all of a sudden when King Trdat acknowledged Christianity as the national religion that people in unison adopted it? You think everyone just held hands and sang kumbaya in a happy go lucky fashion and accepted Christianity. NO, they were forced over time through various institutions such as the state, the military and education to adopt that religion, much like the people we are talking about today.

      You live in a very simplistic world where your thinking process is nothing but black and white. Get off the fear mongering bandwagon and as a fellow human being try to at least empathize with these people.

    • To Someone from Azerbaijan,

      I’m an Armenian refugee from Baku. Saw Azeri barbarism. Accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior after what I’ve seen. Christian faith is not an “imported religion”. It has arrived with the coming of the Son of God to earth. I’m proud that it has become a part of the Armenian culture, otherwise we would become backward Muslim Turks by now. God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Rather than harboring a grudge against us, sinners, Christ loved us enough to suffer the cross. Love for enemies includes having a forgiving attitude toward those who have wronged us. Loving our enemies is possible only when we surrender our will to the will of Christ, and let Him control our lives. But if you wish to descend so low as to cut the head of your enemy, you’re free to violate the law of the prophets but be held responsible for it. After cutting the head do please ask yourself how you’re different from a savage Azeri Turk?

      Silva,

      Religion and Faith are different things. To have Faith in God has nothing to do with following religious dogmas. Yes, we were Armenian before Christianity, as Pagans and Zoroastrians. But the coming of the Son of God to earth has transformed the whole world and transformed us, too, and only towards the better.

  10. avatar Madeleine Mezagopian // November 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm // Reply

    Early Signalling

    Christianity is crucial aspect of Armenian Culture. Christianity is the spirit not only of the Armenian Culture but of the Armenian Identity itself that features many aspects of Armenians’ daily life. One cannot be an Armenian without embracing the spirit of the Armenian Culture. Further, there is the fear of receiving Islamized Armenians without having these Armenians taught of the true spirit, Christianity, of Armenian Culture and with their number exceeding that of the inhabitants of Armenia, there is big danger of hijacking Armenia from Christianity and eventually destroying Armenian Culture and Armenian Identity.

  11. Was Tigran the Great an Armenian Christian? Is he thus less Armenian?

    • Boyajian: He wasn’t. But Tigran’s accomplishments were mainly in the areas of territorial expansion, state-building, military art, foreign policy, and the construction of capital cities that lasted for only 40 years. Whereas Christian Armenia had such achievements as first official state religion, alphabet, translations, two Golden Ages, arts, literature, music, liturgy, architecture, engineering, business, commerce, and many more, which last from 301AD onwards. Are these less important than Tigran II’s territorial expansion?

    • Of course not Berj; I am not disputing the accomplishments that accompanied the introduction of Christianity in Armenia. The point is that he is no less Armenian by virtue of having existed in a pre-Christian or non-Christian era. Our pre-Christian roots contributed to the Armenian culture and are part of who we are today. These roots were not simply replaced by Christianity, but subsumed within it, and are part of our unique Armenian expression of Christian faith today. I am advocating a broader view of what an Armenian is, not discounting the significance of Christianity.

  12. We need to remember that Armenians have been converting to Islam for many, many centuries, now. Some by force, others by choice. Either way, many have rising thru the dominant culture to become leaders, artists and generals, in Egypt, Syria, Turkey and other places. One of the world’s most famous Muslim Armenians, Sinan, created some of mankind’s most amazingly beautiful buildings. Others commanded Seljuk armies or Mamluk warriors, yet all were Armenian. WIth a culture that long preceded both Islam and Christianity, Armenians have often bent with the prevailing wind, and this has been a key to survival against unfathomable odds. We should recognize and celebrate all Armenians…no matter what their religious affiliation, as they have enhanced humanity in many untold ways.

    • I am not aware of “some” Armenians converting to Islam “by choice”. I think it is generally correct to say that most conversions were forced, under the yataghans of the savage Turks. It is undeniable that our Christian Faith is an important part of culture for the prevailing majority of the Armenians. But should it be used as an “assessment tool” for Armenianness, I’m not sure. There are two obvious blunders in one sentence: “Either way, many [Armenians] have rising thru the dominant (i.e. foreign) culture to become leaders, artists and generals, in Egypt, Syria, Turkey and other places.” I think Armenians were rising to high positions not through the dominant culture, but because of their natural wit, talent, and industriousness. Also, what Armenian “leaders” and “generals” were there in intolerant, envious Turkey? You must have made this up.

  13. avatar Grace (Najarian) Brown // November 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm // Reply

    I find it impossible to judge as do many of those who comment.

  14. Pedophilia (or institutionalized child rape) used to be a crucial part of the Armenian culture too, yet we got rid of it, and the nation survived. Hovhannes Tumanyan, who splendidly portrayed the Armenian culture of his time, wrote a poem titled “Maro” about a nine year old girl who is forced to marry a grown man and soon dies. A famous line from the poem reads “Lively and attractive was Maro, she was only nine-years old.” The poem can be found here:
    http://www.hye-books.com/HT01/framesh01.html

    Just because Christianity is a crucial part of our culture now does not mean it has to stay that way. Perhaps it’s time to change the culture, as it has been done throughout centuries. We let people enjoy the freedom of believing what they want, and they will love being members of our nation.

    There was a time when Armenians believed in me, your god of war and thunder. We were quite stronger back then.

    • Back to the business of misinformation and mind-tilting, Vahagn? Since when pedophilia is “institutionalized child rape”? Where did you dig this out from? Wiktionary, as always? Oxford English Dictionary: Pedophilia, n.: “sexual feelings directed toward prepubescent children”. Just because in older times girls were marrying at an early age (sometimes forced, yes), means in your inimitable psyche that “pedophilia used to be a crucial part of the Armenian culture”?! Jesus Christ… My grandmother married at 12 to a grown man because almost every young female at the time married at about that age. Every time you post, you lose ground, man.

      “Just because Christianity is a crucial part of our culture now does not mean it has to stay that way.”

      First, it’s been there not just “now” but for more than 17 centuries and never changed “throughout centuries”. Changed only ONCE: from Paganism/Zoroastrianism to Christianity in 301AD. Stop the bs. Second, it is not for you, a lesser mortal, to decide on matters of faith. Looks like a copy-paste from the petty globalists’ textbook: no religion, no family, no patriotism, no national boundaries. Ain’t gonna work. Nation cannot be above God.

      “There was a time when Armenians believed in me, your god of war and thunder. We were quite stronger back then.

      Very modest of you, and quite amusing, too. But, guess what, Vahagn never was a god of thunder. Where did you dig this out from? Wikipedia, I presume? He was a god of fire and war, the dragon reaper. Were you there when “we were quite stronger back then”? Vahagn figured in an era around 6th century Before Christ. Let’s see… What was happening in the 6th century BC in Armenia? The fall of the Kingdom of Urartu to the Medes. How exactly were we “strong” back then. Please enlighten us…

    • Dear johnnie, back to the business of stalking me? Let me enlighten you some more. When a man marries a woman, he wants to consummate the marriage (that means sex). When a grown man marries a nine year old, he wants to have sex with a nine year old. That makes him a pedophile. When the marriage is consummated, the nine year old child is raped. When you say “almost every young female at the time married at about that age,” you are confirming that almost every female Armenian child was raped (by an Armenian!). That means an institutionalized child rape, which means that child rape was a crucial part of Armenian culture 100 years ago. The fact that it happened to your grandmother is nothing to be proud of. In Tumanyan’s “Maro,” the poor girl runs back home and says “I don’t want to be a woman.” What do you think his husband tried to do to him?

      Cultures change all the time throughout centuries, and the Armenian culture is no exception. We are more knowledgeable, more enlightened, and we beat our women less than we used to. If we can change in all those aspects, we can accept Christianity as being just another religion that some of us choose to believe in, as opposed to the “crucial part of our culture.”

      As for my namesake Vahagn, Armenians worshipped him (me) up until 301 (it’s quite telling that you did now know this.) That means they worshipped him under Tigran the Great. I hope you do know that we were much stronger back then.

  15. The article says , “… that tens of thousands Armenians converted to Islam to escape the deportations and massacres …”

    If we elaborate on this we can conclude that there are no differences in appearance between Armenians and Turks as those exist for example between Mongols and Russians.

    By saying that I mean maybe Turks and Armenians have a common origin. Linguistically speaking , a language may die due to some factors such as conquests.

    I am an Azeri living in Iran. My language is turkish but I know that Turkish languge has been imported into Iran by Turks and my ancestors’language was persian.

    Similarly Turkish language has been imported into Turkey by Turks. We cannot say that the Turkish speaking people in Turkey are Turks because they have no resembance to Turks but we can say that the language of these people has changed.

    • avatar wellistennow // November 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm //

      Contrary to popular belief, many Turks in Turkey DO look Turkic. Yusuf Halacoglu, Ahmet Davutoglu, Necmettin Erbakan etc.

      Iranian Azeris are, according to me, the one Turkic-speaking group in the world that looks the LEAST Turkic. Most Iranian Azeris look Persian. Googoosh and Khamenei, for example.

      Of course, not all Turks in Turkey are really Turks. Both Erdogan and Abdullah Gul look non-Turkic.

    • avatar wellistennow // November 20, 2013 at 12:15 pm //

      … to be correct, Salar Turks of China do not look Turkic either. They are Turkified Chinese.

  16. Why are we discussing about a subject which is very much personal, and it is nobody’s business.Recently I was invited to a Buddhist meeting by a friend who is Armenian,and I was surprised to see four others out of nine participants.Go figure out!I am not going to cut my relation with a friend who has different beliefs.Don’t you think that some people are discriminating against other religion?Open your heart and touch someone.We are all one!

  17. Boyajian:”Was Tigran the Great an Armenian Christian? Is he thus less Armenian?”
    Thank you for the above remark! I for one wear the medallion of our Great King around my neck… instead of a cross.

  18. avatar Madeleine Mezagopian // November 16, 2013 at 2:40 am // Reply

    These Armenians need to be culturally rehabilitated to bring them closer to the spirit of Armenian Culture, Christianity, given they were denied of their true identity that is Christian Armenian identity which enriched and featured the Armenian Culture over more than 1700 years. Christianity which elevated, motivated and shaped the work of great Armenian poets, writers, composers, etc . Who can deny the impact of Christianity on the work of the great musicologist Priest Gomidas (Komidas), the Founder of the Armenian Modern Classical Music !!!!! Are the Armenians willing to get rid of this great Christian Armenian Civilization ???? To embrace what ????

  19. Thank you for mentioning the survivors of 1894-96 Hamidian massacres as well. Many teenage girls who are today’s late greatgrandmothers were kidnapped by Ottoman cavaliers and became wives.

  20. The phrase “Muslim Armenian” is an oxymoron. It makes no sense at all. The Armenian nation has fought bloody battles over the centuries to maintain its Christian faith, the most critical of which being the battle of “Avarayr” that took place around Vaspurakan, Van province, in 451 AD against the Zoroastrian Sassanid Persians. The Armenians won this crucial battle spiritually even though they were outnumbered 4-to-1 as 60,000 Armenians, royalty as well as the clergy, fought together against 250,000 Fire Worshipping Persians.

    It can not be disputed and there is no question in the fact that Christianity has played a major role in the Armenian makeup and identity ever since. However, as in any other culture and religion, some Armenians are devout Christians, others are lukewarm, and yet others are totally oblivious to it. Interestingly though, regardless of how these different groups feel about Christianity and its role in the Armenian life and identity, they all have it in them in one form or another. They were born into it and raised by it. To dismiss the importance of our Christian faith and reducing it to just a mere personal choice is ludicrous. To deny it is to deny your roots.

    Some say, as I do myself, we are Armenian first and Christianity came later. That’s very true but these two have been interwoven together over the centuries and are practically inseparable much like the dye used in carpet weaving. It is at our core, whether we like it or not. These so-called Islamized Armenians did not convert voluntarily. The primary reason for their FALSE conversion was to survive so the Armenian nation would not perish in the hopes that one day, and I strongly believe in this, they would rise up and shed their adopted false religion and become pure again. If they have Armenian blood in them then they are Armenian and the only thing they need to do and MUST do to purify themselves is to get baptized like the rest of the Armenians. You can NEVER be a Muslim Armenian, not now and not ever.

    • Ararat,

      They “MUST” convert to “purify themselves” otherwise they are NOT really Armenians are they? A No True Scotsman scenario don’t you agree?

      I have a favor to ask you, do you have a scale I can stand on to determine how Armenian I am? The reason I ask because I was baptized when I was a kid but now I consider myself as an atheist. Seriously, if there was a procession or a ritual to get unbaptised then I would voluntarily participate in. So, applying your mindwarping point of view on life, I would not be considered a “real” Armenian. So I thought maybe you can help me determine my Armenianness…

      I mean how dare you assume you, or your convictions about who is or is not an Armenian, is THE authority to determine such questions. Such hubris and dare I say it complete unChristian behavior. Adopt a bit of humility in your life, it will do you some good and make you a much better Armenian!!

    • @nomad, I suggest you read my remarks once more and carefully to realize that I neither used the word “real” nor did I discuss who is and is not “real” Armenian. In fact, I clearly stated if one has Armenian blood then one must be an Armenian. I also stated that Christianity is in the fabric of our society and it has been so for the last 1,700 years. Therefore, any Armenian who refutes his Christian identity, in my personal view, is “incomplete” without it. It does not mean you are not a “real” Armenian but that you are missing something important that is an inseparable part of the Armenian makeup. You can argue this point till cows come home, because you are an atheist, but that is a fact I fully embrace.

      In the case of the so-called “Islamized Armenians”, which implies Armenians forcefully converted to Islam, I implied “impurity” and emphasized that an Islamized Armenian is an impure Armenian because whether you like it or not we are a Christian nation and our nation has suffered tremendously throughout the centuries, including genocide, not at the hands of the Agnostics or Buddhists or whatever but at the hands of our MUSLIM enemies. In this context, an Armenian who willfully embraces Islam, the religion of his racial enemies, I will go as far as saying he is a traitor to the Armenian race. How many Muslim nations can you name today which have officially acknowledged the brutal extermination of the Armenian nation at the hands of their fellow Muslim genocidal Turks? Probably none and you know why? Because condemning and accusing the fellow Muslim Turkey of genocide would be condemning Islam itself. After all, the Ottoman Empire where Armenians were wiped out was dubbed the Center of Islam and it was founded and expanded by their sultans at the commands of their freakin Allah. Got it?

      I not only adopt humility in my life but I am also a very humble Armenian but that does not mean I will stand aside and let people identify us as they see fit based on their personal issues and shortcomings. So I reiterate that you can NEVER be an Armenian and a Muslim. I suggest you get off your high horse and stop acting politically correct and instead act like what you really are: An “Atheist Armenian”, another oxymoron like “Muslim Armenian”.

    • Ararat,

      Yes you did not use “real” in your discourse but the message was loud an clear; that is, Armenian = Christina + (X). X here being some identifiable characteristic of being Armenian such as by blood, language, cultural upbringing, whatever. And this is exactly the problem I have with this mentality because you can not fathom how one can be Armenian and be something other than a Christian, that includes atheist and even Muslim. Your simplistic view of the world is what handicaps you. If today I were to adopt Islam as my chosen religion than I would be no different than I was a day ago, just that I adopted another set of irrational belief system. I would still be Armenian and consider myself to be Armenian regardless if I fit in your chosen model of what an Armenian is, a “pure” or my nomenclature, “real” Armenian!

      It’s irrelevant that in the past Armenians fought off Muslim invasion because we are not in the past this is the 21st century and we understand more now than the people before us. That is not to say the history is overlooked but that in this day and age there is no Muslim invasion in Christian Armenian territories. Well at least not in the sense that it was back in the days since Mohamed. Therefore, if Muslims and Armenians, be it Christian or otherwise, can have civil relationships NOW without aggression or fear of conversion by one group over the other then what is the problem? Also, it is of no importance that no Muslim Nation condemned the genocide in this context because stupid tyrants do bad things and even good things under the name of religion; what bearing does that have on this topic? BTW there is an article by Sassounian (on this website) talking about a Fatwa made by some Muslim cleric back in 1909 condemning the Ottoman massacres. Yes it is not a nation making the statement but it is counter to your posting even though it is irrelevant.

      You are so tone deaf that you don’t even realize the hubris coming out your vile statements. You need to get off your high horse! Who appointed you the grand vizier of handing out “Armenian ID” cards?

      And on a general note, you need to calm down and accept the idea that some Armenians CAN be Atheists and even Muslim and call themselves Armenian. It is quite possible and not an oxymoron, as you suggested without providing evidence to justify your claim. Religious identification and cultural/national identification are not mutually dependent, they can be independent as shown by the very facts of the case here. The case of the Islamicized Armenian and atheist Armenians such as myself.

    • avatar Ouhoulahanian // January 12, 2014 at 6:46 pm //

      Ararat, have you seen any true scotsmen lately? While Armenians have fought over what religion to have the right to exercise, and no matter how much help one religion or another has given Armenians, there is undoubtedly a difference between religion and nationality. The fact that people have fought and died for something is no reason to look at it logically and unbiasedly.

      Bragging about Armenia being the first christian nation is like bragging about being the first group of people swindled by gypsies.

  21. When I read lines like “Christianity is a crucial aspect of Armenian culture”, “Christianity is the spirit of Armenian identity” and similar others, I think to myself “there goes yet another well-worn, parroted cliche, instilled into the Armenian brain, over the centuries by a group of black-dressed control-freaks, who have caused not a small amount of pain and suffering to the common people of my heritage. They have claimed the name of the Saviour, in their bid to become a government within a government, oppressing and exploiting the people, at the same time as having nothing in common with the character(istics) of Jesus Christ. The church which claims to be “Christian” has a history of persecuting and killing hundreds of thousands of people in its bid to maintain its monopoly over the nation. Today hardly anyone has even heard of the Paulicians (Պաւղիկեան շարժում) or Thontrakians (Թոնտրակեցիք), whom the Armenian church persecuted for centuries (from mid 600 AD till well into the 12th century) for spreading the gospel among the common people. They were seen as unwanted competitors of the so-called “apostolic church”, referred to as “sects” and “heretics”, maligned, reviled, demonized, lied about, chased and killed at every opportunity. Those of them who survived (being chased to Europe) became the wellspring of the Bogomils of Bulgaria, laying the foundation of the Protestant movement of the Renaissance period of later on. Most Armenians who talk of “Christian/ity” they have in mind their own native brand, which has fought against the Greek brand, for as long as they both have been around. And to this day they still fight (literally) every year in Jerusalem’s Church of Nativity. Many of them, find it difficult to accept a Moslem as an Armenian, because of their narrow-mindedness. To most, it does not even occur to ask, would Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the founder of Christianity, force anyone to convert? Would He have demanded His terms for acceptance and/or conformity? He conducted some of the most revealing aspects of His teaching with a Samaritan woman, who had had several men in her life. If He was so tolerant and accommodating I cannot see why we cannot be towards each other, irrespective of religious beliefs, ability or otherwise to speak Armenian etc etc. Where there is a will there is always a way. Armenians have paid too high a price down through the centuries, due to their “us-against-them” attitude. My message to the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate, regarding their inability or unwillingness to accept the “hidden” Armenians is: 1) Are you living in the internet age or an earlier age? 2) At Christ’s second coming, will you be able to convince Him, that you were His true followers, or not?
    P.S. Thank you Mr Bedrosyan for every one of your articles. They are informative, thought provoking and well written. Your very first article I heard (YOU read) was at Esayan, in Oriort Haktsiyan’s year 5 class. In the class photo of 1963/64, you are seated next to Garo Dilan. I am in the third row. We live in a small world, don’t we?

    • Xunsap’ha,

      There are several flawed points in your post that I will disregard simply because they are hogwash. In one word, whether you like it or not, it is generally accepted by most Armenians that Christianity IS a crucial aspect of Armenian culture. Narrow- and simple-minded is he, who stigmatizes Faith as a “parroted cliche, instilled into the Armenian brain”.

      Instead, I’ll focus on the point re: Jesus. You ask: “would Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the founder of Christianity, force anyone to convert? Would He have demanded His terms for acceptance and/or conformity?” I personally don’t think he would, but he would expect a person to believe that “no one comes to the Father except through me.” This is not a conversion per se, but He would need to see someone accepting Him as the way and the life.

  22. “Common ethnicity, land, language, history, cultural heritage, and religion are general measures in defining a nation. Even if one or more of these measures can be missing due to historic reasons, such as the inability to speak the language, or practice the religion, or the lack of knowledge of cultural and historic heritage, this should not be used to exclude one’s Armenian identity.”

    A refreshing wind from troubled Etchmiadzin! A clear and key statement hardly to be improved upon. It shows the way and should inspire hope that Armenianness will not simply be treated as a flag to be raised or lowered in a town square.

  23. Armenians are Armenians; Yes we are the 1st nation to become Christians.But just like a comment earlier…we are proud of Tigranes the Great as Armenian emperor..was he Armenian?…same all those islamacized Armenians ARE ARMENIANS. The Armenian churches of all denominations should be challenged and take this opportunity to show love, compassion and evangelize. We should share their hurt, their past grief. If being Armenian is to be Christian…let us act like a Christian,like CHRIST. It is our duty as Christians and as Armenians to accept and love those people, and be proud of their courage.

  24. avatar gaytzag palandjian // November 16, 2013 at 1:31 pm // Reply

    Dear Sylva MD -Poetry…
    How right you are, ARMENITY BEFORE RELIGION.Indeed I respect both but—first we stay ar,menian whether believers or not, catholic, Protestant Apostolic or even yes Moslmized, BUT NEVER COULD THE TURKS KILL WITHIN US THE ¨e r m e n i ¨……we stayed as such.Sometimes when raging with wrath they also called us ´GYAVOURS
    iN YOUR HONOUR i WISH TO QUOTE BELOW MY POETRY IN ARMENIAN:-
    Շատերն են արել կուքը սէկ Մասսի…Արարատը մեր..սարերի Արքայ
    Թունդ պատեց սիրտս երբ ես այն տեսայ,առաջին անգամ,Հայաստան հասած
    եւ Խորհեցա…..
    Բաւ են աղերսանք, սիրտ շարժել փորձող, ամեն մի Հայ ջանք
    Ըսած է տւած առաջին դասը,քարսիրտ դատխաց ոտարացի լորտ մը
    « հեղինակութիւն, չ,աղէրսւիր տղաս, ձեռք կ,անցւի ան»……
    Դատըտ արդար է անժամանցելի,գլուխ ծռելով դուն տեղ չես հասնիր…
    թէ հարկ է զարնիլ,զարնւիլն ալ կայ…..այդ թող լաւ գիտնանք
    Լաւ զարկի համար դուն Ոյժ պէտք ունիս…
    Այդ կ,գտնաս Մ Ի Ա Բ Ա Ն Ւ Ի Լ Ո Վ ……………….

  25. avatar gaytzag palandjian // November 16, 2013 at 1:40 pm // Reply

    Corections!!!
    կովքը ,սխալ գրւած գովքը ճիշտ է
    քարսիրտ ԴԱՏԱԽԱԶ ճիշտ է

  26. A fantastic article
    I always wanted to extrapolate the current number of muslim armenians in Turkey. Raffi puts it at a modest number of 2 million. But hang on a minute what about the Alewis of Iskandarun and the surrounding area of ancient Cilicia. The number I think far exceeds that 2 million, I say it can reach as far as 10 million.
    Now do not go bonkers, but alewism was another make do religion to avoid the harshness of Sunni islam, armenians converted to alewi branch of so called islam as it does not have complex ablutions and complex definitions. I met a kebab maker in Munich whose name was suleiman, asking his surname he said it was Wartan….meaning Vartan.
    He did not even know he is originally armenian until I convinced him that Vartan is our hero and our Saint!!!! Vartan for example was alewi and was as far west as Fethiye. He said there are at least 12 million Alewis Like him!!! Now what does that mean? I do not know, but it requires a lengthy academic investigation.
    Yet again, the issue is complex and we need to open our minds and accept our lost family, they went through a lot of torture just to stay alive and they did it for the sake of our ethnicity not our religion. Our religion and our church are the foundations of our culture but we have to remember that we went as far as Singapore and we lost a lot of our armenians across generation in places like Poland as well. The last of the polish generals Hans Gooderian from Wroclaw/Breslau fought against Marshall Bagramian who is also an Armenian.
    Our nation is flexible , sways with the current and open; we have to accept these people gradually and bring them over rather than alienate them.
    I wish all those who go to Surp Giragos for a Pilgrimage, the best and even though they might stay Muslim, may our ancient gods of armenia bless them!!!!
    Thank you Raffi for this eye opener article.

  27. I want to make something very clear to all. Christianity was not a neutral choice, it was absolutely devastating to us. I am confident enough to say that hadn’t we accepted Christianity, there would be no need for us to talk about Islamized Armenians while ourselves living in USA and writing in English – we would simply all live in our historical homeland which would be one of the most powerful states of the world and all other nations on this Earth would be jealous of us and teach their kids to be like us. It is Christianity why we are in such a misery now, and it is Christianity that keeps us in that misery. And only when we overcome all this religious bullshit and learn to appreciate that any other Armenian on this globe is our brother or sister, even if we don’t know them, we will achieve what we deserve. If you want to worship something, better worship our ancient Gods, but otherwise just worship your Armenianism and make your race raise with you.

    • Narek,

      And I want to make something very clear to you alone: your post, in general, is a phantasmagoria womb to tomb. First part is a sheer counterfactual history: “hadn’t we accepted Christianity […]” Counterfactual history maybe entertaining, but it doesn’t not—and never will—meet the standards of mainstream historical research due to its speculative nature. How can a mature person be confident that Armenians “would be one of the most powerful states of the world and all other nations on this Earth would be jealous of us and teach their kids to be like us” had they not accepted Christianity? My friend, where are the Pagans? Where are the Zoroastrians? Even if a few remain nowadays, is either of them a “powerful state”? Most probably, and I am just taking a guess not expressing confidence like you, Armenians would become Muslims in the 7th century or a century later with the spread of Islam. Show me one powerful Muslim state. When I say powerful, I mean technologically and scientifically developed state. Please discount hydrocarbon resources, population, or nuclear science developed with the help of the Russians. And, as a guess again, in the 11th century, we most probably wouldn’t remain as Armenian Muslims, because nomadic Turkic savages from Mongolia would assimilate us amongst them. Do you want to be a Turk, Narek? If yes, do you consider modern Turkey a “powerful state”? What happened to their Ottoman empire? Do you want to be a member of a nation that William Gladstone considered “one great anti-human specimen of humanity”? I wouldn’t, and I can’t thank Jesus Christ enough for that.

  28. avatar gaytzag palandjian // November 17, 2013 at 11:18 am // Reply

    HOLD IT THERE…
    gOODERIAN IS KNOWN TO HAVE BEEN Armenian…but one of those whose ancestors hailed from East or West Armenia.But a German,rather brought up as a German. First time ever that I hear he was from Poland,a polish General.Plese clarify that.Or maybe ,if I have time shall look it up in Cyclopedias..

  29. avatar samuel Kerbabian // November 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm // Reply

    Great article Raffi
    If they feel Armenian its our duty to embrace them and welcome them back to the family, after all who are we to judge most of us are Christian by name only , we have church (yeretspokhans) that are anAsdvads . Take an example from the Jews they take them in welcome them and help them integrate in there culture.

  30. Articles like these are my only source of information on such topics, and for this I am so glad Raffi and The Armenian weekly exist!

  31. avatar gaytzag palandjian // November 17, 2013 at 4:09 pm // Reply

    Addendum,
    I looked it up in Wiki pedia through google…Gooderian´s father was a Polish(long extinguished-assimilated)Armenian,a colonel in the Prussian(German) Army, thence his studies in military academies etc.,to progress in the career ande become a general.he was the one that established the Panzer famous Tank division with a ´blitzkreig¨STRIKING force etc.
    Armenians for your info have had generals as long ago as in the Roman Emire, the Byzantine and to our days in the ex soviet one scores of generals a couple Marshall, and Admirals isakov and Paul Ignatius-ian- the secretary of the formidable U.S. Navy…
    How about a couple now in our Tiny armenia.yes we do have famous ¨Comandos¨ nickname of Arkady Der Tatevossian and another…
    Take care… we ought to strive to have more in latter´s armies…

  32. First of all, it is the responsibility of the Turkish government to provide a protection for their citizens, specially for the minorities, and repair the damage that made by their predecessors.
    Mormon Armenians, Jehovah witness Armenians, Islam Armenians, all other Armenians that you name it, at the end of the bottom line remains one question to be answered, how and which way, they are all supporting our motherland to protect herself from the enemies, and be prosperous nation. Therefore by their fruits you shall know them. Matt 7:20

  33. It is astounding to see how many ignorant people disassociate being Armenian from being Christian. All the massacres our nation has been through are the result of islamic persecution of Christianity. And yet you are willing to accept people who are muslim and who are partly of Armenian origin as Armenians? Armenianness without Christianity is worthless, and not worth defending. It is Christianity that gives the splendor and value to our heritage. God chose us to be his first official Christian nation, rather than an unimportant nation like Azerbaijan. I suppose some of you wish we were unimportant and following the backwards religion known as Islam for the sake of continuing to live on the shores of lake Van…

    • Religion cannot be a decision factor for nationality except may be for Judaism. Take for example the Palestinians. There are Christian Palestinians and Muslim Palestinians as well. Can you say that one or the other is not Palestinian ?

      On the other hand you and I will not except for one of our children to adopt Islam as a religion and will fight with all we have to avoid it. It is really sad and shocking to know about these people and to think of how their ancestors were forced to Islam .

      But let’s think it this way. Assuming that one of your children were killed and the other kidnapped while young and was converted to Islam. If you find him/her after some years will you reject your child for being a Muslim or will you take him/her back ? Be honest with your answer.

      Those Armenians we are talking about were once the children of our nation living next to the ones who did not survive the Genocide. While the others were killed by Genocide these were kidnapped by the same Genocide , a Genocide that intended to eliminate the Armenian nation no matter it be by killing or converting .

      The question is , will you except these children back or will turn your face against them ?

      I am sorry to say this but if we cannot accept the ones who survived the killings then may be we should not pretend that we care about the ones who died.

  34. If we accept as Armenian those who do not speak Armenian, those who are illiterate in Armenian, those who are only 1/4 Armenian, those who are isolated from an Armenian community, those who know nothing of the culture and history, why should we insist upon professing Christ? I agree that the fullest expression of being Armenian includes Christianity, but so does language, cultural knowledge and so much more. Shall we view Armenians who don’t go to Church weekly as less Armenian? If so, our numbers In the US are less than 20,000.

    There are two defects in the argument that Muslim Armenians are not Armenians. The first allows us to ignore them as a result of this conclusion. But Jesus commands us in The Great Commission to make believers of all men. We should welcome them and invite them to their Church. The second defect is that we should turn our back on them merely because of what they profess – Islam. We of all people know why they are Islamic. They did not reject their ancestral religion. Their grandparents did so unwillingly. We should welcome them home.

    • I definitely agree with you that we should welcome them home, IF they convert back to Christianity. Otherwise, they have nothing in common with us, asides some genetic material. Their values of conquest and murder for their prophet run contrary to our good Judeo-Christian values. Muslim Armenians are no different than the Turks. Only a small portion of Turks’s ancestry is from central Asia. For the rest, they are a melting pot of Greeks, Armenians and Syrians who converted to Islam to avoid persecution and live easily, while our ancestors had to live like second class citizens and pay crushing taxes. Yet it is those same Turks, who with their Armenians heritage but who converted to Islam, turned on their Christian Armenian brethren and massacred them during the Genocide…

  35. avatar Serge Hamian // November 18, 2013 at 1:19 am // Reply

    It is absurd that someone can decide the identity of someone else. Identity is personal to the individual who feels it. Who am I to decide whether someone is Armenian or not. If they feel Armenian that’s all that matters. I can only speak for myself. I am passionately Armenian and believe There are thousands of different ways to be Armenian all of whom make our nation stronger and our culture richer in diversity and numbers. Regrettable the Armenian Apostolic church which has never had the interest of our nation but has only been a self serving institute has caused untold damage to our nation and our statehood by excluding anyone who was not part of it. As a result of this policy of rejection we have lost countless number of people to other nation at the expenses of our own. Nations progress only when they separate religion from the state. It is just fear and narrow mindlessness that some people have to reject anything they are not familiar with. Armenians can be apostolic, catholic, Protestant, pagan, atheist, Muslim, gay, lesbian, dark, blond, tall, short, intelligent, not so intelligent, rich, poor, right wing, left wing, religious, agnostic, mixed race, mixed nationality, single parent, loving Armenia, hating Armenia and anything else human experience allows. Everyone seems to reject some type of a person as not being Armenian, which leaves no one as Armenian. Time to grow up and celebrate the incredibly rich diversity of our nation.

    • Excellent points, Serge. It is as if you spoke my mind. It is quite encouraging that there are Armenians among us who think like us.

    • Serge: The issue is fundamentally different. It is not about deciding on someone’s identity. Let them be whoever they want to be, but as Muslim Armenians are willing to become part of a nation that has its ancient, distinct set of virtually unchanged cultural values, which includes religion, whether some like it or not, these people will inevitably face up to these values. It is not as simple as you write to create diversity embracing Muslims in the oldest Christian nation, a nation that underwent barbaric extermination, forced conversion, tortures, and mutilation by the same Muslims of the Turkish brand. I seem to understand the points made here by both camps, but I have no clear-cut solution to offer. Just imagine, on the other hand, what would happen to a Muslim who converted to Christianity or Judaism. I bet you wouldn’t dare to freely preach your diversity ideas to the mainstream Muslim population, would you?

    • You are right Serge. In fact this is classic in group out group behavior that is so programmed in human beings. Fundamental tribal behavior that we have yet to brush off. We have a lot of growing up to do as a species.

    • Nomad: There is nothing wrong with “in-group out-group” behavior because any nation tends to be mindful of its coherence, unity, and particular interests. This is narrowly Armenian, this is in human nature per se. It is inaccurate to say that it’s been so “programmed” in human beings. Tribal behavior, as a means of protection and food-sharing, was there from times immemorial and continues to exist, as civilization advances, in the form of institutions, communities and nation-states. Modern civilization, with its secularism and isolationism, has done much to break it down, but it will never be able to “brushed it off”. This behavior may undergo some changes in the format and structure, but not in essence. You cannot “brush off” something that exists in human nature. This is an oxymoron. However hard you grow up as a species.

      The mistake that posters like Narek, you, and several others are making is that they advise the rest of the Armenians to “grow up and celebrate the diversity of our nation” forgetting that a nation cannot be put above God. George Washington once said: “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” Therefore, to say that “nations progress only when they separate religion from the state” is absurd and I can give dozens of examples to the contrary. Christianity is an integral part of the Armenianness. No doubt about it. At the same time, can we measure Armenianness only with Christianity? Not sure. But neither can we brush it off or progress if we separate it from Armenianness. I would venture into saying that, on the contrary, for the past 1700 years we have progressed thanks to Christianity.

      I can certainly understand, as poster Boyajian said, the fear of many that a large influx of Muslims would adversely affect the Armenian nation and its cultural values. And why shouldn’t they fear? I find it completely understandable that a nation that has seen indescribable barbarity from Muslims of Turkish brand would require new adherents to convert back to the religion that the nation professes. If some think there is something “tribal” in such a behavior, then be it: again, every nation protects its coherence and particular interests. Armenians are not an exception.

    • Berj,

      By programmed I meant it came about by evolution of our species both in the biological sense and in the cultural sense. I’m not sure how you are interpreting it but maybe you can clarify.

      I say it is a problem and should be eradicated because of the hostile behavior that is manifested because of our fundamentally basic drive of favoring the ingroup to the detriment of the out group. For no other reason than either perceived fear or irrational fear. What I am saying is that we realize nowadays that collaboration on a global scale is more constructive and harmonious than discriminating behavior. Therefore being cognizant of our faulty behavior, we should strive to change it. Yes I realize that it is so ingrained into us as a human beings that it is very hard to change but it is not counter-intuitive and certainly not a justification to not try to change our behavior.

  36. Annie :
    When you were President of the ACA of Ottawa, in the beginning of this millenium, and I was your Treasurer, I reported a phone call I had received on behalf of the Association from a person with a Turkish/Kurdish sounding first and last names, who told me his Grandfather was Armenian and wanted me to have our Association help him finacially and to get refugee status in Canada. He did not speak a word of Armenian. Do you remember what your reaction was then?
    I consider myself open-minded, and would rather have my heart filled with love than with hatred. Like most Genocide survivors, I know of a family member (an aunt) who was kidnapped at age 15 during the deportations and had been found in 1920 by a young relative. She did not show-up at the night rendez-vous to be taken to join the surviving members of her family in Haleb. Her children (if any), are my cousins! Yet, I don’t know how I would react if I came face to face with a Turkish or Kurdish person telling me: My mother’s (or grand-mother’s) name was Noémi.
    Like many who commented, I do not pretend to have an answer to this difficult question.

  37. avatar gaytzag palandjian // November 18, 2013 at 11:27 am // Reply

    I reiterate and confirm what I posted above.First we stay Armenian,whether we hve converted to Presbyterianism, catholicism,Islam(Hemshentsi armenians) and or plain oppresssed Dersim Armenians who were also forcibly or by fear of being slaughtered converted into Islamism…
    We should respect these very much and accept them amongst us,ASAP.We need their count.What´s more it looks like our beautiful neighbours,great Turkey, are being ¨cornered¨by some obscure, unseen power(s) to let these Armenians Assyrians Greeks come back to their faith and unite with their people.
    Otherwise uncle Sam may stop pumpin in billions into your treasuries(read pockets too).Only 10 % to treasuries rest into pocklets of those turks who go to Brazil,U.s. Canada and elsewere ,Europe too, with pocketfull of bucks…We know that…
    Therefoe time is toacept Islamized Armenians w/open arms.But always have our(so far unknown) Armenian counter intelligence check on them..I mean in the Diaspora,especially.For in Ra, we inherited the famous KGB or the like who take care of these like issues.Or do they? efficiently as they should???
    Carry on with the debate having in mind above and I reconfirm both chritian and moslem Armenians should be respected ,hoever, priority goes to Armenity(pronounce that as in community) Armenian ness is incorrectly injected into our conversation writigns…
    Take care
    Viva Armenia and Armenians, then come the religions next

  38. avatar gaytzag palandjian // November 18, 2013 at 11:44 am // Reply

    Addendum,
    One Armenian so called intellectual lady , when we first started the drive to get Euro Armenians organized around ONE entity and thus muster up clout*now recently we have two such in Europe…BTW…
    And our lady editor wrote “a Protestand Reverend has popped up and wants to lead the Armenian leader”…poor lady,if now she is still alive and hears following ,might get a heart attack..
    I ask you on this line NOW…Who was the leader in 40 days of Moussa Dagh*Ler( who organized the resistance and saved 4000 Armenians lives,why a Protestant Armenian Reverend!!!!!!
    a Verabadveli,well educated and wwith a don to make his point made and get the people to rise up and fight!!!!
    So lady, do not mock any Armenian that follows any faith,please!!otherwise we become disunited…we are a progressive race.Trjue we have always kept our Arakelagan(Apostolic)particular branch of our christianity and still insist on it.O.K. bo problem ,but let these also prove their abilities like Khrimian hairik, ARchbishop Melik Tangian Catholicos Garegin Hosepiansts, Garegin 1.take care

    • Gaytzag, I see your point, but I think the conflict between Armenians of various Christian denominations is not the issue—rather the conflict between Christians and adherents of Islam troubles many here.

      I welcome any Armenian who wants to rediscover his ancestral heritage, but I also understand the fear of many (which I don’t share) that a large influx of Muslims would adversely affect Armenian society. I think there is much in our history to draw us together, for the good of the nation and to honor our martyrs, that would overshadow religious differences. In addition, I suspect that Islamized/Turkified/Kurdified Armenians who seek their ethnic roots will naturally explore their religious roots as well. How can you not question your faith ‘choice’ when you discover it was forced upon your ancestors?

      Some Armenians are threatened by the notion of multi-culturalism, but this is an unavoidable struggle if we are serious about democracy. We can’t have the benefits of democracy without accepting the notion of equality for all. Without it, we are no better than those who have oppressed us throughout history, (this includes the greedy, self-serving, blood-sucking so-called Armenian Christian Oligarchs who are draining the life out of the AR today).

      There are many different kinds of Armenians; the genocide is only the latest event that made sure of that. Trying to insist that we all be cookie-cutter copies of one another is absurd. Armenians have the gift of adaptability—it has been our strength. Any potential conflict can be overcome by prioritizing working together for the good of Armenia/Armenians, despite personal differences among us.

  39. avatar annie demirjian // November 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm // Reply

    Antoine jan, I don’t remember the incident or my response. I hope to god it was the right one. Now that I travel to Armenia more regularly and follow developments, such as the article written by Raffi, I have come to better appreciate my moral obligation vis a vis other Armenians. These are indeed difficult questions but collectively we can debate, dialogue and find solutions.

  40. avatar gaytzag palandjian // November 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm // Reply

    Boyajianm
    Firstly those who debate the issue of Armenians having converted into Islam,I can assure them 99% were forced into it.
    Secondly,if I -especially-concentrate,rather prefer to indicate our own house,that is interfaith issues ,it is because we have been too much fanaticized with our own house.That of the Apostolic,Catholic and protestant.Fact is we also have some very very few(in Armenia) some Zoroastrians…so what?
    Next,what is troubling some participants in the debate here,specifically -again-those Islamized ,rather as Sylva refers to them RIGHTFULLY,Turkified,I might add kurdified Armenians, can rest assured,that once we accept amongst us(including hemshentsis)these will very soon rather than later, RECONVERT INTO THEIR PREVIOUS FAITH-CHRISTIANITY.Indeed when in a Demcratic East-West united Armenia.
    As to Democracy you refer to and many many others…I am rather in favour of a Democrati-Socialism,explained in plain words so as to be very clear to all, similar to the Sandinavian Governance mode.Not the European Socialism which has by and by given in to so called Democracy(read 100% capitalistic).We are Armenians more Ungervar(this will please the Tashnags here)which let me immediately add, i ´m not one..as I just wrote prefeer the Democratic Socialism8prroof of their success can be seen by our Tashnags,, if they take the trouble to send their Ungers ungerouhis to go stjudy on spot their mode of Governance,
    Armenia at present-sorry to sya-for your info is a Wild free market Economy oriented one(which gave birth to those you denominate as Oligarks).It is in that current ..unfortunately…
    Only Way out to do as I ¨suggest¨…SCANDUHUVIAN-(NICE WAY TO PRONOUNCE IT.I know it is Scandinavian.I have had close intimacy through one Swedish friend who has more or less explained to me the success of their Glovernance mode,based on a (my way of referring to it-Democratic Socialism) At present Swedn and neighbouring few are self sufficient, produce cars fighter jet aircraft8Volvo) Saab etc., hav e rich people amongst them, no Not filthy Rich Billionaires and Sky scrapers but a well balanced Economy.No poor people there…
    Take care

  41. For those who say that these Muslim Armenians must first convert to Christianity to “purify” themselves, I wonder if you would be okay if THEY demanded, in exchange, that we purify ourselves (quite literally) by embracing circumcision and cleaning off all that crap. If we can put conditions in front of them, it’s only fair that they do the same to us.

    • Another moronic gem by the disinfo agent. It is not the prevailing majority of world Armenians that knock on the door of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to be accepted as new Muslims. As for circumcision, one doesn’t need to look far to understand that the poster never even read the Bible. In John 7: 21-23 Jesus contrasts circumcision with healing, emphasizing that it is an injury, as well as an example of over-zealous law-keeping. Jesus said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. Moses therefore gave you circumcision, and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?”

      And more,

      “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” –1 Corinthians 12:18

      “Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.” –1 Corinthians 7:18-19

    • Another moronic line of argument by our resident “Christian.” Basing arguments on religious passages from a 2000-year old book is the very anti-thesis of an intellectual debate. Who cares what some dude wrote in the bible about circumcision? The point is if we present conditions on Muslim Armenians, they are fully within their rights to make conditions on us. Or we can respect each others’ right to believe in what we want and practice what we choose.

  42. I am half Armenian and half German. Born and raised in Southern California. I have cousins who are also half. But many more who are 100%. Whether we are ‘full’ or ‘half’ we are all proud of our Armenian heritage. We all mostly identify with our Armenian roots as opposed to our other ‘halfs’ but it was difficult at times to be ostracized for not being 100%. Sometimes within our own family. But we all feel like we are part of the culture based on the times spent together on holidays and in church. I no longer practice Christianity but that has not changed my attitude about being Armenian. It is so disappointing to read what some of you are writing. The notion that Muslim Armenians are living oxymorons is so myopic and indicative of our male-centric culture of machismo, bullying and arrogance. It reminds me how fortunate I am to take shelter in the American ideals of equality and freedom of religion. One can have respect for the tight tie between Christianity and Armenia while also looking forward and beyond ourselves and our history. Thankfully, there are many more among us who have bigger hearts and wide open minds than those of you who are mired in a narrow Nazi-like view of what an Armenian is. Thanks for the article Raffi. Hrant Dink is a hero and the Hrant Dink Foundation is a treasure for our kind.

    • @Eric, those of us who believe in the notion that Muslim Armenians are living oxymorons are not shortsighted but in fact are very farsighted because the Armenian nation was put to death at the hands of none other than the MUSLIM Turks. Those who survived and are now popping up as so-called Islamized Armenians, became so because so they could not keep their Christian faith as dictated by the Turkish Muslim sword of Islam. If you call rejecting the religion of your racial enemy arrogance then let me add that any Armenian who is also a Muslim, an oxymoron again, is a traitor to the Armenian race. The so-called American ideals of equality, freedom of this and that are the very reason why America, unlike some sixty years ago, has turned into a morally-bankrupt brothel. I know it is not easy to be living as an Armenian in such a hippy country whose foundation is based upon individuality and greed as opposed to looking out for what is the most important: Sacrificing one’s individuality to preserve the Armenian plurality and uniformity.

  43. Eric, I have family members half Armenian and half German,and I love them very much.To love each other unconditionally must be our motto, that’s the ultimate choice for us.Love and respect can solve many things.You are so true,Hrant Dink Foundation is an asset for us.By the way,Raffi, I am from the same school,too.

  44. avatar gaytzag palandjian // November 19, 2013 at 6:18 pm // Reply

    Addendum
    Boyajian,
    Now don´t get me wrong,I am not against democracy-if rightfully practiced-it is unfortunate that the picture is somewhat different.I wish to convey that Armenia,plus other 14 republics of ex soviet union totalitarian communist regime overnight became free market economies(gone wild).I can understand why Russians are overdoing themselves this wise to show to West that indeed we can also practice capitalism to the utmost….with their billions…
    in order to show the West that if this is what you profess, we can overdo you in this aspect.Hope you understand.I understand their zeal in buying the best of everything settling down in best areas of Europe ,only Miami like places,in U.S.,not L.A.They prefer Cote DÁzure of France,South of Spain etc to places,where there are lower class `people. where they can best enjoy their easy money are the said areas.Paris included ,as well as for some London.
    But, never mind the 14 rest ex soviet republics…ours ,Republic of Armenia suffered most after the God given this last independence,co inciding with Earthquake(disastrous9, then war impossed on us and then the Turoc azeri alliance to box us in and try to strangle us…We did not need the capitalistic system then…we needed the Sccandinavian type Governance, where if a millionaire or some such industrial or busienss enteerñprise earns 10 million per annum near 80% goes to pay Govt. taxes.Thus facilitating Gov.t to take of of public Social services etc., education ,Health inclusive.This is what BEST WOULD HAVE SUITED US in Armenia, not the run-away capitalism at its wildest.Pst Summer of all the high class Stores -never mind-I saw a car ,small convertible sports model but totally covered with studded gold pieces…I was aghast and astonished…the owner who had left it on an important street had -definitely the intention to show off …..at that moment I thought of those that I had seen in far flung areas of the republic.
    I believe I shall soon finish my essay and email to a hundred friends and some newspapers.Not being partisan ,latter press will no publish me for reason that I am not in tandem with their ideologies or a partisan.
    Anyhow,this is an example of what goes on…

  45. {“We all mostly identify with our Armenian roots as opposed to our other ‘halfs’ …”}

    Eric:

    May I ask what was/is the main reason for you and others to mostly identify with your Armenian roots ?
    Germans are a great people, lots to be proud of: so are Armenians, but choosing between the two must have been difficult.
    We are a small nation, with many challenges, many responsibilities, many concerns.
    Many of us in the Diaspora spend considerable amounts of personal time, effort and funds on issues crucial to the _survival_ of our people, our RoA, our NKR, issues that are not even on the radar for Germans, French, etc.

    A German-American worries about his health, his job, his family, and such.
    An Armenian-American has to worry about all that, plus RoA, NKR, Azerbaijani aggression, Turkish aggression, Turkish denialists, Syrian-Armenians…there is no end.

    So it would be interesting to know why you chose the ‘difficult’ road.

    As to some of our brothers and sisters @AW who have strong opinions: you have to appreciate that we Armenians came very close to being erased from the face of this Earth: because we were Armenians. Only a handful of ethnos have had that experience. Even today, our little Armenia and our tiny NKR face mortal dangers from the same savages who almost wiped us out.

    I read Armenian sites, Armenian-American sites, and sites of other counties. (Turkey, Israel, Azerbaijan,……)
    I have read the posts of nationalist Turks @AW and at Turkish sites for years. (directed at Armenians)
    I have read the posts of nationalist Jews/Israelis at Israeli sites (directed at Palestinians – of all people).
    There is no contest: there is unbelievable, overwhelming hostility and hatred towards the given targets of hate by a super-majority of the native posters.
    Compare them to comments by super-majority of Armenian posters @AW.

    Anti-Armenianism is official policy of both Turkey and Azerbaijan.
    Here is a sample of what we have to deal with:
    {“Armenia has become ‘cancer’ of the region”} (Azerbaijan Presidential spokesman Elnur Aslanov. Thu 07 November 2013. @News.az)
    Cancer (!) Azerbaijani Presidential spokesman (!) said that.

    Having experienced near-extinction, Armenians at large are surprisingly tolerant of people who tried to wipe us out.
    So every so often some of us get to vent: not the end of the world.
    “You are not really paranoid if they are really out to get you”.
    You are an Armenian: you would understand, Right ?

    Just the same: read this; you’ll like it.
    http://armenianweekly.com/2012/01/22/hamparian-were-all-armenians/

    And finally: welcome to our Armenian family.
    We need more like you (plural you).

  46. This particular topic, in regard to the Islamized Armenians in Turkey, is a very delicate issue that will need to be discussed a great deal, both in the Armenian diaspora and Hayastan. This is actually one of the topics that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. It’s also a topic that many Armenians are divided about. There are those Armenians, who easily embrace the Islamized Armenians of Turkey. There are those Armenians, who totally reject the Islamized Armenians of Turkey. And then, there are those Armenians, who are willing to accept the Islamized Armenians of Turkey, under the condition that they convert to Christianity. This really seems like one of those topics that the Armenian population of the world will be divided about for a long time. Anyway, my opinion on this topic, is a bit different from the other opinions. But before I get to that, I’d like to talk a little bit about Christianity, and its effect on our history. Even on the subject of Christianity, Armenians differ with each other in opinion. There are those Armenians, who are firmly attached to Christianity, and then, there are those Armenians, who are not so attached to Christianity. Anyway, there’s something that I wish to point out to everyone. It’s because of our Fatherland’s adoption of Christianity, back in the year 301, that the Armenian nation and culture still exist today. Because, if our Fatherland, which corresponds to God’s original Christian nation, had not adopted Christianity, it most definitely would have ended up adopting Islam by the time of the Turks’ arrival on Armenian land, back in the year 1064. After that, the Armenian nation and its culture would’ve been history. It would have all ended up being absorbed into the Islamic Crescent nation of Turkey. That therefore means that there would be no Armenian culture and no Armenian nation today. However, because of our Fatherland’s adoption of the Christian religion, and its enormous perseverance in keeping this religion, there still remains an Armenian nation and culture today. Christianity has truly played a huge role in the history of the Armenian culture. As a matter of fact, it has played a much bigger role in our history, than in the history of any other culture on this planet. It is for this reason, that I feel so much love for Armenian Christianity. Just take a look at all those old, adorable Armenian churches and monasteries of our Fatherland. Those majestic Christian monuments of our Fatherland, represent what our culture is all about. The Armenian nation has made quite a few bad decisions throughout its history, however, the decision to adopt Christianity as its state religion, was the best decision that our Fatherland ever made.

    Lets go back now, to what we were talking about earlier, in terms of the Islamized Armenians in Turkey. Based upon what I was talking about a few moments ago, I’m sure that all of you would say that I’m against the acceptance of these people. However, that is totally not the case. As a matter of fact, I will even go so far as to say that the 2.5 million plus Islamized Armenians in present day eastern Turkey, are a valuable asset in our fight for the Armenian Cause. They can most definitely contribute a great deal in that department. In addition, the vast majority of these people identify themselves as being Armenian. Many of them desire to learn about the Armenian culture, history, and traditions. And many of them, also wish to convert to Christianity, which of course, is the religion of their Armenian ancestors. There are also those of them, who do not wish to convert to Christianity, due to the reason that they’ve been practicing Islam for so many years, and are therefore attached to it. That’s understandable after all. Therefore, Armenian Christians cannot blame them for that. Those people had no choice. They were forced to convert to Islam or die. However, there is still a problem with all of this. And the problem is that being Armenian and practicing Islam, just doesn’t go with one another. These two things are the exact opposite of each other. Worshipping inside a mosque, just doesn’t go well with being Armenian. Attaching oneself to the prophet, Muhammad, just doesn’t go well with being Armenian. Bending over and praying five times daily to the holy Islamic city of Mecca, just doesn’t go well with being Armenian. The holy city of the Armenian people is not Mecca. The holy city of the Armenian people is Yerevan. The symbol of the Armenian people is not the Islamic Crescent. The symbol of the Armenian people is the Armenian Cross. And let’s also not forget that Islam happens to be the religion of our two historic enemies, Turkey and Azerbaijan, who throughout all these years, have desperately tried to wipe out our Fatherland.

    But anyway, those particular Islamized Armenians, who identify themselves as being Armenian, but still wish to practice Islam, should not be rejected by Armenian Christians. Instead, they should be encouraged to dump the Islamic Crescent inside the garbage can where it belongs, and to embrace the majestic Armenian Cross. They should be taught by Armenian Christians about the Armenian culture, history, and traditions. They should be taken to the famous Armenian church, Surb Giragos, over in Diyarbakir, and encouraged to spend time inside this church. After a while, the combination of Armenian education and time spent in the Armenian church, will encourage them to finally convert to Christianity. Hey, the more Armenians we have in this world, the better it will be for all of us.

  47. avatar gaytzag palandjian // November 20, 2013 at 10:30 am // Reply

    To Avery,
    Very well said.half Armenians even one thrid Armenias are welcome.Indeed the Hemshentsis, Islamized(read Trukified) Armenians too!
    But I´m writing to ask you to enter panarmenian.com and see for yourself what out Foreign Ministry,in extension indeed Govt. is doing!!! inviting FM Daut oghlu to Yerevan to a BSEC Conference.I just wrote on facebook,Armenia does not have sea outlet-port,While Georgia has.Why not hold the meeting in Tbilisi or Batumi ,this last sentence is not on my facebook.
    Incomprehensible !!! is our FM that incompetent!!! or else how to explain that!
    One thing is to keep silent and see how tiny Armenia is being copied after rest 14 ex-soviet republics-especially Russia,another to have to swallow such errors..
    It is time to really re-organize the Diaspora to keep itself more independent of RA, until such time as latter begins to act correctly.Mr. speaker of the Armenian Parliament (the taxi driver told me when passing by ) this building is Mr. speakers..i looked out window,indeed the building …A REPLICA OF THE AZAGYIN ZHOGHOV NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.latter for Armenians is revered as our main Law making and breaking institution.it has to be respected.And to think that such a person is there governing it?????
    Hayutyun Ho yertas????
    And what are we going to achieve in Yerevan at BSEC Conference a PORT ON THE BLACK SEA,by hosting the participants …pray tell me.

    • Mr. Palandjian:

      I read panarmenian.com and many other news sites regularly.
      BSEC meetings are held in various capitals.
      This year Armenia has the Chairmanship.
      So Armenia gets to invite various FMs.

      BSEC Member states: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

      Neither Moldova nor Azerbaijan have outlets to Black Sea either.

      Armenia has to be involved in these things: there is no other option.
      It has to play the game: standard politics.
      Everybody does it.
      Armenia is not on another planet.

      They just have to be very careful not to be taken to the cleaners by more experienced operators, that’s all.

  48. avatar gaytzag palandjian // November 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm // Reply

    Thank you Avery for clarifying the issue at hand re Black Sea.I did not know that .But you failed to comment on the speaker copying the National Assembly Bldg. to build his private house exactly as latter.This I saw with own eyes…can you explain,why on earth such persons can take over the presidency of our national assembly …
    Indeed he could and can build-with …money what he likes as his residence,good architects are in abundance in RA.he could hire one and ask him to build something very special and outstanding,but to build a replica of the National Assembly??????what do you say to that???

  49. Dear Gaytzag, Armenian Highlands used to be connected to Black sea in the North, Mediterranean sea in the South and Caspian sea in the East, whereby countries like Albania, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Turkey never existed. today’s “real” Black sea nations can spell name of Armenia without Turkey!!

  50. This is a complex issue, and here again I am finding many comments here surprising so I don’t even know where to begin. I am in the camp that says our Christian faith and Armenian identity go hand in hand, but with caveats (will say more on it later). And anyone who would say otherwise is not fully aware of the historical realities of our culture. (I largely agree with what Ararat posted on this above).

    But as far as Islamized Armenians, we must first figure out the what, how and why such an issue has come up. It is not as simple as yes or no, they are or they aren’t. My first observation is, as Boyajian and Avery and others have pointed out before, Armenians were Armenian before they were Christian, which would mean someone can be of Armenian heritage and not be Christian. On the other hand even though it is true, that fact is maybe not that important ‘today’, because we have known ourselves (as far as through our recorded history) that we have been Christians longer than anything else. Notice I said as our records indicate, and not necessarily our ancient history as various tribes. Spiritually that we can tell, we have been Christians the longest, and we know accurately how long.

    Next we must present the fact that since our conversion to Christianity, within a few centuries, Islam came to be our mortal enemy. In this regard a “Muslim Armenian” presents a paradox of sorts, but not necessarily an “Islamized Armenian”, because the former implies, perhaps, a decision, and the latter, being the victim of circumstance, like Genocide. In a way if they have discovered they have Armenian heritage and wish to embrace this identity and we reject or make things difficult for them, it is akin to “blaming the victim”.

    So, what is the objective of an ‘Islamized Armenian’ who has now (courageously) come out? Are they calling out for help to be re-integrated in Armenian society? Do they just want to learn something then disappear? Do they wish to form their own community by keeping their Muslim faith but being known as Armenians henceforth? And with their Muslim faith, are they involved to the point of extremism? (Note: for this last point, if the answer is yes, no research or thinking is required here, I will be the first to say, “get lost” from our culture).

    As the author Mr Bedrosyan pointed out, it is not realistic to all of a sudden expect all these Islamized ‘hidden Armenians’ to change their religion over night. Their faith is what they were born into and what they know. In fact, I would even say it is dangerous to convert all of a sudden in an extremist country like Turkey. It would be great for them to come to our Christianity eventually to fully experience all aspects of Armenian culture, but this must be viewed as a long-term process and not a one-time event. The opposing views of the Istanbul Patriarchate and Etchmiadzin are rather ironic, since one would have expected the opposite.

    Finally, for me so far this applies to the hidden Armenians living in Turkey, and not necessarily elsewhere. And after having said all this, the issue of Islamized Armenians for me remains complex and there are no easy answers, so perhaps, it is best left treated on a case by case basis.

  51. Actually Hagop, treating this issue of Turkey’s Islamized Armenians on a case by case basis, is the wrong kind of approach. You need to move a lot quicker than that. These people already wish to identify themselves as being Armenian, and in addition, many of them have expressed the desire to convert to Christianity. What is the Armenian diaspora waiting for? It’s time to start sending Armenian teachers into eastern Turkey to educate these people about Armenian culture, history, and Christianity. There is absolutely nothing to lose in all of this. On the contrary, there is a lot to gain. Not only are these people a valuable asset in our fight for the Armenian Cause, but in addition, they will also end up forming a major Armenian presence in Turkey, which is extremely important.

  52. avatar gaytzag palandjian // November 22, 2013 at 11:13 am // Reply

    Dear GB,
    Yeah, we have been great in the past.But at present we lack ABOVE ALL, the desire to be so,or at least strong enough to tell some off!!
    Such as when i was in Yerevan ,right after conflict in S.Ossetia and Abkhazia and these fought off the ill-planned Sahakashvilli offensive,thre them out -indeed with Russian help-and declared independence.At a meeting then,at Congress Hotel….well let´s be brief.The Georgians complained to the Int´l reps. there from U.S. U.K., Iran and Turkey…
    I was the only one who mentioned our(Armenian)plight in Javakheti(Javakhk) to them that they ought to lift up the oppression they implosed upon our brethren sisters there and stop chaning names of our churches in Georgia proper-Tbilisi etc.,
    Then I though(but did not say it) our Javakhk should have declared,if not independent,at the very least, as an Autonomous Region within geporgia…
    You see, we do not move fast and we are not as yet ready ,since we pretend to be acting whether in RA ,. or in Diaspora.WE are not!!! Case in point is how our neighbours are intent to secure their rights in the region while we still beat around the bush.Also our brethren sisters in Ra are very much busy paying more attn to their own well being8the Elite,so to speak those in the Govt. like the one above I mentioned copying building his residence-house after the National Assembly.Right now we ought to take care of such issues.Stop the wild market economy drive in RA.Capitalism is too soon for Armenia,it is impoverished and needs injections into the rural areas< IMMEDIATELY.Recent issue of aGBU magazine just to hand speaks of terrible situation there.No men in villages,90% are women.Whjat I propose is to start counter emigration, i.e. Repatriation to Armenia with HUGE Financial effort,No not from Gov.Latter is busy buying cloths at Giorgio Armani in downtown Yerevan….
    The diaspora must re organize around PCA´s and establish in Geneva CH National investment Trust Fund.Then Loan monies at low interest to those who wish to Repatriate soon very soon.Otherwise in a short while,we may loose whatever we have gained as a tiny republic(s)
    En fin, better ask our political parties to act and support the idea of MI APANUTYUN amongst all all and act.

  53. A lot of what is being said here is devoid of historical understanding and frankly, very narrow minded. If you look at history, Armenians go back at least 6000 years, probably more, as a distinct people, with their own language and yes, even their own, native born religion! And low and behold, for several thousand years, they worshipped the almighty sun (as in arev, ar, armen, Armenia). That circle under the cross on most khatchkars is a sun symbol. Similar sun/fire symbols are scattered throughout our churches, our litugy and our religious art. The point is that Armenians, sadly, abandoned their native religion to adopt a foreign religion, only for the last 1700 years, even though their own religious pantheon was much, much older. If we celebrate the achievements of Metzamor, Karahunj, Erebuni and many other pre-Christian sites, we must accept that for centuries, Armenians were not Christian. The adoption of Christianity was more an effort to establish themselves as an independent entity, distinct from the Byzantines and the Persians, by adopting a little known religion brought to them by itinerant Jews, rather than a true embrace. In fact, it took centuries for the new religion to eliminate its ancient predecessor. This is why 3000 year old fire altars still exist and are preserved beneath the altars of Etchmiadzin and other churches, as well as at Ani and other sites throughout ancient Armenia. My feeling is that we never really gave up our old, native traditions, but instead adapted them to the newcomer, and invited a lot of trouble and headache as a result. For once, just imagine what it would be like if Armenians chose a path of less resistance, instead of the one with the most difficulty. And, don’t say that Armenians would ‘disappear’, by adopting yet another foreign religion, as that definitely would not have happened. It would just be another thin veneer on top of many, deeper layers of elemental Armenian culture and tradition.

    • It is not true that Armenians worshiped the sun for “several thousand years”, because around 3000 BC, they already created a specific iconography and pantheon of multiple gods. While these gods were still centered on the worship of the sun, by the Urartian period (early 1st millennium BC), they resembled Mesopotamian and Egyptian deities based on animal-human combinations. Afterwards, during Armenia’s Hellenistic period in the mid-1st millennium BC, human deities emerged. Yet, afterwards Zoroastrianism based on fire-worship had emerged.

      It is not true that the circle under the cross on some Armenian khatchkars is a sun symbol. In fact, the extensive symbolism on the khatchkars include world, semen, the paradise of Eden, Golgotha, the paradise mountain of Revelation, sun, star, universe, etc. with sun being just one of many symbols. Please read everything on khatchkars at http://www.khachkar.am/en/.

      It is not true that sun-worship was “native” Armenian religion. Sumerian, Egyptian, Indo-European, and Meso-American cultures developed solar religions as well, and were older than the Armenian.

      In many cultures, Paganism and Zoroastrianism receded into the background when the Son of God came to earth. Therefore, this event cannot be considered “foreign” by any account. It is absurd to say that Armenians “adopted a little known religion brought to them by itinerant Jews”, because a 5th-grader knows that Christianity spread due to the coming of Jesus Christ and his teachings not because “itinerant Jews” brought their Bible (Old Testament) to the Armenians. Son of God, by definition, has no ethnicity.

      Christianity lasts the longest in the Armenian history. Christianity was fought for in the fiercest way. Millions died in order not to denounce their Christian faith.

      If we imagine what it’d be like if Armenians chose a path of less resistance, the nation would most probably lose its distinct identity. If we showed less resistance in Avarayr, we would have stayed Zoroastrians as Persians. If we showed less resistance during the spread of Islam and Arab conquests, we would have become Muslims. And if we became Muslims, then from the 11th century onward, during the rule of nomadic outsider Turks, we would have become at the minimum Mountainous or Plain Turks.

  54. John…you may want to dispute history, but facts are facts. Proto-Indo European religion, which logically includes that of the Armenians, because of the linguistic connections, dates to at least 7000 BC, if not earlier. And yes, the sun was and remains an essential element in Armenian religion, Christian or not. According to Wikipedia:

    The pantheon of Armenian gods formed during the nucleation of the Proto-Armenian tribes that, at the initial stage of their existence, inherited the essential elements of paganism from the Proto-Indo-European tribes that inhabited the Armenian Plateau. Historians distinguish a significant body of Indo-European language used by Armenian pagans as sacred. Original cult worship is a kind of unfathomable higher power or intelligence called Ara, called the physical embodiment of the sun (Arev) worshiped by the ancient Armenians, who called themselves “the children of the sun”. Since ancient times, the cult of sun worship occupied a special place in Armenian mythology. Also among the most ancient types of worship of Indo-European roots are the cults of eagles and lions, and the worship of heaven. Over time, the Armenian pantheon was updated, and new deities of Armenian and not Aryan origins appeared. Furthermore, the supreme god of the Armenian pantheon, Vanatur, was later replaced by Aramazd. The latter, though, has appeared under the influence of Zoroastrianism (see Ahura Mazda), but with partially preserved traditional Armenian features. Similarly, the traditional Armenian goddess of fertility, Nar, was replaced by Anahit. In the Hellenistic age (3rd to 1st centuries BC), ancient Armenian deities identified with the ancient Greek deities: Aramazd with Zeus, Anahit with Artemis, Vahagn with Hercules, Astghik with Aphrodite, Nane with Athena, Mihr with Hephaestus, Tir with Apollo. After the formal adoption of Christianity in Armenia, new mythological images and stories were born as ancient myths and beliefs transformed. Biblical characters took over the functions of the archaic gods and spirits. For example, John the Baptist inherited certain features of Vahagn and Tyre, and the archangel Gabriel that of Vahagn. Basic information about Armenian pagan traditions were preserved in the works of ancient Greek authors such as Plato, Herodotus, Xenophon and Strabo, Byzantine scholar Procopius of Caesarea, as well as medieval Armenian writers such as Moses of Chorene, Agathangelos, Yeznik of Kolb, Sebeos and Anania Shirakatsi, not to mention oral folk traditions.

    The point is, in the 4th C., after thousands of years, Armenians gave up their own ancient, religious tradition to adopt a foreign religious tradition and practice – and it was done by force. There was nothing nice about the conversion period, as eliminating the native religious tradition was a brutal, ruthless process. As a result, Armenians lost a vital link to their most elemental traditions and history, due to the intolerance of Christianity. The other point is that if Armenians were Armenians then, they remain Armenians now…no matter what religious tradition they subscribe to. Blood (i.e., DNA) is thicker than religion, which has no DNA whatsoever.

    • Karekin,

      As a matter of routine, I stop discussions whenever people bring Wikipedia, the most unreliable source of information, into the debates. There is no such scholarly term as “Proto-Indo-European religion”. It’s a hypothesized term which sometimes is used to synthesize similarities among the deities, language, religious practices, myths and legends of the Indo-European peoples. And it doesn’t date to “at least 7000 BC”, because separate dialects of the PIE language tree were formed in about 2500-2000 BC.

      I don’t dispute history and I don’t disagree there was Paganism in Armenia before the arrival of Christianity. But, as poster Yerevanian rightly noted, you deliberately position pagan history about 2 millennia off the mark to support your argument that Paganism lasted for many more millennia than Christianity. Well, not many. And the pagan period in our history pales in comparison with Armenia’s development and progress as a Christian nation. I hope you don’t dispute the fact.

      Finally, Karekin, where are the pagans and zoroastrians nowadays? Except for isolated groups here and there, what civilizational level were they able to achieve?

  55. Please don’t try to diminish the ancient religious tradition of Armenia or its reverence for the sun. There is more history, as well:

    Several references are made by Moses of Chorene to the worship of the sun and moon in Armenia. In oaths the name of the sun was almost invariably brought up, and there were also altars and images of the sun and the moon. Agathangelos, in the alleged letter of Diocletian to Tiridates, bears witness to the Armenian veneration for the sun, moon and stars.[2] However the oldest witness to this worship is Xenophon, who notes that the Armenians sacrificed horses to the sun, perhaps with some reference to his need of them in his daily course through the skies. The eighth month of the Armenian year and, what is more significant, the first day of every month, were consecrated to the sun and bore its name, while the twenty-fourth day in the Armenian month was consecrated to the moon. The Armenians, like the Persians and most of the sun-worshipping peoples of the East, prayed toward the rising sun, a tradition which the early Armenian Apostolic Church adopted, so that to this day the Armenian churches are built and the Armenian dead are buried toward the east, the west being the dwelling of evil spirits.[2]

  56. And then, there is ARAMAZD:

    Aramazd is the principal deity in Armenia’s pre-Christian pantheon. He displaced Vanatur at the top of the pantheon after interaction with the Persians led to the Armenians’ identifying the Zoroastrians’ Ahura Mazda as their prime deity. Aramazd was considered the father of all gods and goddesses, the creator of heaven and earth. The first two letters in his name – AR – are the Indo-European root for sun, light, and life. He was the source of earth’s fertility, making it fruitful and bountiful. The celebration in his honor was called Amanor, or New Year, which was celebrated on March 21 in the old Armenian calendar (also the Spring equinox). Aramazd was a syncretic deity, a combination of the autochthonous Armenian legendary figure Ara and the Iranian Ahura Mazda. In the Hellinistic period Aramazd in Armenia was compared with Greek Zeus. The principal temple of Aramazd was in Ani (Kamakh in modern Turkey), a cultural and administrative center of ancient Armenia. The temple had been ruined at the end of the 3rd century AD, after the adoption of Christianity in Armenia as the state religion.

  57. I normally don’t like to engage in theological arguments, but I will say a few things here. Some people have argued that in the early days of our Christianity, we oppressed our people using Christianity. And I say to this… so!? What have we (our kings, or leadership) done that every other nation in the history of the world hasn’t?

    I do acknowledge that we experienced cultural losses as a result of the actions of the church, but why not also acknowledge the gains? Besides, many if not most of our cultural aspects and traditions were maintained, but with Christianized versions. We may have had an old alphabet… in late pre-Christian Armenia where was it? Gone, and the church was not around to take the blame. And why, may I ask do we have an alphabet today? The short answer to that question is ‘Christianity’. A century after our conversion to Christianity, it was getting unbearable since we could not put our religion into our own writing, since Greek wasn’t cutting it, and thus there was a drive to have our own unique alphabet. Shortly thereafter Armenia had its “golden age of literature”. Our religious belief and drive also helped us achieve our unique Architectural style, which in turn also influenced other Christian nations, like Georgia, Byzantium and Europe (early Gothic). Our art and carpets, all revolved around the cross and its variants. Yet, we had cruciforms in our ancient pre-Christian art as well, which made a perfect match with our newfound religion in 301AD. ‘OUR’ Christianity undoubtedly formed and is a part of our identity.

    The problem we have here is, people rejecting religion have confused the religion with the behavior of humankind. Throughout history, every group, nation, religion, organization, etc has at one point or other committed abuses and oppression of others, at least by how we see them today. Someone, somewhere killed in the name of religion? Fine, but if not for that religion, they would have done the same in the name of something else.

    I actually cannot think of any society in history that happened to be irreligious, and made “progress” or “was on the cutting edge” whether it be in science, or literature, or human rights or whatever. How did the Atheism touting Soviet Union work out, where they killed millions upon million in a couple of decades where any other religion failed to do in the name of religion for centuries? And how is the current China and North Korea working out with their brilliant human rights records?

    I reject all arguments which would entertain the notion that we must abandon, alter and/or dismantle our church. Even slightly, because that is exactly what our enemies want. The day that we let our guard down and start importing all these pseudo-religions into Armenia disguised under terms like “freedom”, “human rights” and other phoney-baloney slogans, is the day we will lose any hope of being united as a people and being the masters of our own future generations. We have corruption in our church? Sure we do, and again I would ask, as far as our religion is concerned, so what of it? If you care enough about it, then you can try to get better people involved instead of equating our church itself with corruption.

    No one forces anyone to believe in God. This is by and large a personal experience and choice. But to deny our church is to deny part of our identity and culture. If we got rid of our church today, what will it be replaced with? Nothing? Fire/Sun worship? Most of Humanity I would say are spiritual beings and do need a belief. So what is the gain? In fact we would lose 1700 years of identity and cultural tradition.

    An Armenian who claims our church and religion “has no connection to them whatsoever” is one who has either not been raised in our culture, or is completely ignorant of Armenian culture itself, or both. Our religion has touched and influenced nearly every aspect of our history and life, including literature, art, music, language, food and everything else.

  58. Hey Karekin, when you said that,”a lot of what is being said here is devoid of historical understanding”, you forgot to include yourself in that group. If you look at history, you will see that the Armenian culture does not go back at least 6,000 years, as you say Karekin. You’re roughly 1,200 years off the mark. The Armenian culture goes back to 2700 B.C., which would be just under 4,800 years ago. That corresponds to the time, right after the landing of Noah’s Ark on our majestic Mount Ararat. And let’s also not forget that Noah happens to be the forefather of Hayk Nahapet, the founding father of the Armenian nation. In terms of religion, Karekin, prior to the adoption of Christianity in 301, the Armenian people were Pagans, just like so many other people at that time. It’s not as if they had any kind of a distinct, exotic religion. If they did, as you’re trying to point out, then they never would have adopted Christianity in the first place. Christianity, obviously gave our Fatherland something special that it did not have prior to its adoption of this religion. You’re absolutely correct, when you say that our adoption of Christianity invited a lot of trouble and headache. As a matter of fact, I’d like to add to your statement by saying that no other people in the history of this planet, suffered as enormously from the adoption of Christianity, as the Armenian people did. However, as bizarre as this might sound to you, and to so many other people, adopting Christianity as its state religion, was the best decision our Fatherland ever made. And, the reason for this, is that after the year 1064, the Armenian nation was completely surrounded by Islamic states, with the exception of Christian Georgia to the north. So, that therefore means if the Armenian nation had not adopted Christianity, it most definitely would have adopted Islam, especially by the time of the Muslim Turks’ arrival on Armenian land, in 1064. What does this all mean? This all means that the Armenian nation and culture would have easily been absorbed into the Islamic Crescent nation of Turkey. The Armenian people would have ended up being Turkified, and there would be no Armenian nation and no Armenian culture in existence today. Let it be known to the Armenian people, that it is because of our Fatherland’s adoption of Christianity as its state religion, and its enormous perseverance in keeping this religion, that the Armenian nation and culture still exist today. I salute our Fatherland for making this decision.

    Hey Karekin, when you say that 3000 year old fire altars exist beneath Etchmiadzin and Ani, how exactly is that possible? These fire altars you’re talking about, are connected to Zoroastrianism, in which they were used as a place of worship by the Zoroastrians. As you know or might not know, the Zoroastrians revere fire in any form. However, what does any of this have to do with the Armenian people before their adoption of Christianity? They were never Zoroastrian to begin with. As a matter of fact, back in the mid 5th century, the Armenian nation fought a war against Persia, who tried so hard to force Zoroastrianism upon the Armenian people, but ended up failing. By the way, Karekin, the cathedral of Etchmiadzin, goes back to the year 303. That’s 1,710 years ago. You’re roughly 1,300 years off the mark. As for the city of Ani, it goes back to the 5th century, which would be around 1600 years ago. You’re roughly 1400 years off the mark. Anyway, it’s a good thing that you brought up the subject of Etchmiadzin. I was actually over there, earlier this year. What a heavenly place it is. Truthfully speaking, when I was inside that gorgeous church, I really felt like I was inside the living room of God’s house. It is a feeling that I will never forget.

  59. Yerevanian – please do us all a favor and study some real history, not myth, not fantasy and not legend. You can talk all you want about Noah’s ark, but let me ask, why would a group of people (the Jews), say in their legends that Noah landed on a mountain more than a 1000 miles from their homeland, which had nothing to do with Israel? Where was the Garden of Eden? Armenia. Where was Abraham born? Urfa (Armenia) Where did all of their earliest history take place? Armenia. By the time Christianity was born, Armenia and Armenian culture had been around for many thousands of years and was already ancient and well established. It had flourished.

    For you to say that Armenian history started in 2700 BC is a bit ridiculous. Archaeologists, linguists and historians all disagree with you and today they have facts to prove it. The Armenian language itself is the oldest direct descendant of proto-IndoEuropean language, which is dated to 7000 BC. Who spoke it? Think about that. And, it originated in the Armenian highlands. Moreover, these same people not only had language, they had their own belief system. The Armenian highland, due to its incredible climate, fertile soil and indigenous flora and fauna, was the true cradle of civilization and provided the genesis of civilization in the middle east.

    You may or may not find this interesting, but please take a look – and learn something factual about your own people – one of the most ancient on earth: http://peopleofar.wordpress.com/welcome-to-people-of-ar

    • Karekin,

      How can you advise posters to study “real history”, if you made several blunders in one post?

      Blunder One: A “group of people (the Jews)” said (in the Old Testament, not legends, btw) that Noah landed on “a mountain more than 1000 mi from their homeland”. In fact, the Old Testament says that the Arch landed on the mountainS of Ararat, meaning any mountain mass in the LAND of Ararat. When it landed after the Deluge, there were supposedly no humans, Armenians or others, or other living things around.

      Blunder Two: Garden of Eden. No hard evidence has been produced as to its location.

      Blunder Three: Abraham was born in Ur in Mesopotamia, not in Urfa (ancient Edessa) in Armenia.

      Blunder Four: All earliest history took place, in fact, in many places: Sumer, Egypt, China, etc., not just in Armenia.

      Blunder Five: By the time Christianity was born, Armenia and Armenian culture had not been around for “many” thousands of years and flourished. At best, for about 2-2.5 millennia. The earliest record of an established, flourishing proto-Armenian civilization is Urartu, and this is early 1st millennium BC.

      Blunder Six: The Armenian language, as a descendant of PIE languages cannot be dated to 7000 BC, because only in 2500-2000 BC the breakup of the tree into various dialects is considered to have been complete.

  60. The fire altar is also mentioned on the website of Etchmiadzin:

    http://www.armenianchurch.org/index.jsp?sid=1&id=107&pid=102&lng=en

    And, description and photo of the fire temple at Ani:

    http://www.virtualani.org/firetemple/

  61. Yerevanian

    The Zaroastrian alters exist under the Etchmiadzin Cathedral. It’s underneath the alter lead through a passage way to some who are “privileged”. But possibly you could bribe one of the priests there and they could give you a tour of the place. I have seen it myself and it is presented to the public as a location of fire worship.

    Noahs Ark huh… seriously? This notion of Noah, the Great Deluge and the Ark is comical at best. This is an allegorical story and nothing more. It goes against so many fundamental aspects of science such as biology, geology, zoology not to mention lack of any corroboratibe historic facts to suggest such a global event took place on earth. This is pure comedy people. I mean think about the impracticality of such a venture as rounding up animals from all corners of the globe, keeping them in check, feeding them, cleaning their quarters and making sure they survive for a whole year! And how exactly is one family suppose to round up “two of a kind” of all animals including insects not to mention fish and other indigenous animals from all corners of the world. To top it off, they have to re-populate the whole earth in matter of 6000 years or so. Seriously guys, this violates all common sense not to mention established fields or research and inquiry. This is so silly that I have to post up a youtube clip for your entertainment which seeks to debunk Noah’s story. cheers!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I225Vcs3X0g

  62. Hey Karekin, you have a nice arsenal of vocabulary words, and you also include an enormous amount of details in your writing. However, the problem is that these details of yours, convey absolutely nothing. The vast majority of your details, do not have one piece of evidence behind them. It’s quite obvious that you despise Christianity, and because of that, you wish to establish that the Armenian people possessed this really beautiful, exotic religion, in which they worshipped in fire temples, just like the Zoroastrians. The problem, though, is that the Armenian nation was never Zoroastrian to begin with. Just because a fire temple was found below the ground of Etchmiadzin and Ani, does not mean that the Armenian people had a religion, revolving around fire worship. What sort of ridiculous logic is that? And your claim that the location of the Garden of Eden, happened to be in Armenia, is without any evidence. It’s a possibility, however, there are also four other possibilities for the Garden of Eden’s location: Iraq, northeast Iran, Africa, and Lebanon. Going back to the subject of Noah’s Ark, were you not aware that the mountains of Ararat happen to be the place named in the Book of Genesis, where Noah’s Ark came to rest after the great flood (Genesis 8:4). You can also find this information in Armenian history books. In addition, there have also been numerous expeditions thru the years, as recently as 2010, to support the landing of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat, around 4,800 years ago.

    Hey Karekin, why are you trying to convince us that the Armenian culture goes back to 7000 B.C.? At the beginning, you were saying it goes back 6,000 years. Now, all of a sudden, it goes back 9,000 years? You know that’s not true. You’re roughly 4,300 years off the mark. By the way, if you didn’t know already, let me inform you that the world’s oldest culture is the Chinese culture, which goes back to 5000 B.C.

    Hey Karekin, weren’t you aware that the date of the first traces of civilization on Armenian soil, and the date corresponding to the beginning of Armenian culture, happen to be totally different? Armenia, which happens to be one of the oldest existing countries today, has evidence of civilization as far back as 4000 B.C., in the form of the Shengavitian, who were also called Kura Araxes, Transcaucasian, Karaz, and Pulur. However, this particular group of people were not connected to the Armenian culture. They did not speak any form of Armenian, nor did they share any cultural traits with the Armenian culture. As a matter of fact, they died out in 2500 B.C., which would be around 200 years after the beginning of Armenian culture. Those archaeologists you were talking about, have been doing a great deal of studying on that ancient Shengavitian culture. It seems quite interesting.

    Hey Karekin, you seem to be interested in the Cradle of Civilization, so let me take the time to educate you on that subject. The Cradle of Civilization, corresponds to the ancient Near East. It was the first to practice year round agriculture. It gave the world, the first writing system, created the first centralized governments, and laid the foundations for the fields of astronomy and mathematics. In terms of the ancient Near East, Armenia was a big part of it, as well as Mesopotamia (Iraq, southeast Anatolia, Syria, and Kuwait), ancient Egypt, Persia, Anatolia, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Arabia. The ancient Near East, begins with the rise of Sumer in the 4th millennium B.C., and ends between the 6th-4th century B.C. Are you still there Karekin? Or was that too much civilization for you? Anyway, if you need any more history lessons, make sure to let me know Karekin. The pleasure is always mine.

  63. It’s a simple as this. Whether these Islamisized Armenians choose to identify themselves as primarily or at least in part as Armenians, they are welcome.

    But let’s not kid ourselves here. Many Islamisized Armenians, partially out of fear of Turkish nationalism, vehemently deny their Armenian roots. For example, the Rize and Camlihemsinlis who lost their Armenian language a few centuries ago.

    It is only in Hopa and Borcka they still speak a Western Armenian dialect. But, unfortunately, it is dying there too as newer generations tend to be monolingually Turkish-speaking.

  64. I agree with some above that being an Armenian is one thing and being a Christian is a plus on it, for me according to the words of Christ , And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” John 6:65 (NKJV), means that not every individual person will be able to be His follower, neither by his own will or by the other individual or individuals demands, even Christ Himself being the Teacher didn’t force the people to be His followers, He said Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12 (NKJV). Our ancestors by vast majority from the 4th century and on did except to be the Christ followers, and we Armenians been called Christians by the other people and by ourselves for 1700 years, foreigner visitors who come to see Armenia, “the little what’s of it left from the original one”, by looking around will see churches that built up starting from the 4th century and on until now days, that alone will make anyone to come to a conclusion to declare that the Armenia is a Christian nation.
    Unlike the teachings of Christ Islam is a big concern to me, their teachings are not parallel to what we learn from Christ, for example Quran commands the Muslim as follows: Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, Nor hold that forbidden Which hath been forbidden By God and His Apostle, Nor acknowledge the Religion Of Truth. (Qur’an (:29).
    “Does Islam impose a severe penalty for killing a ‘kafir’ – a Muslim who converted to Christianity? “ The answer: No. Ali said, “No Muslim should be killed for killing a kafir” (hadith albBuhkari 9.83.50).
    I’m not a scholar, but a regular working man and I could be wrong, I think we need to have in mind that if Muslim is a threat to our national security or not, not the Turkyfide or Kurdyfide Armenians, we do not need to be persecuted again by forced Islamized generation, after all 100 years not yet even over the genocide, while yet we are still in pain, our nation’s security comes before anything else in my judgment, you correct me if I am wrong. I will welcome them only then.

  65. There’s something I wish to correct from the two previous posts I made on here. I was incorrect when I stated that the Armenian culture began in 2700 B.C., shortly after the landing of Noah’s Ark on the mountains of Ararat. After conducting a great deal of research on this topic over the last few days, it turns out that Karekin was correct on this particular matter. The Armenian culture does actually go back a lot farther than 2700 B.C. For whatever reason, the Armenian historical literature of the Armenian Apostolic Church, contains very little information on Armenian civilization before 2700 B.C. In their view, the beginning of the Armenian culture begins shortly after the landing of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat, 4800 years ago. But, as it turns out, the Armenian culture was already in existence prior to the landing of Noah’s Ark. In addition, 70 years of communism under the former Soviet rule, prevented much of what was discovered about Armenia’s past from being shared with the outside world. It is only in recent years, that archaeologists are uncovering layer after layer of history that places Armenia as the location of one of the first cultures on earth.

    To begin with, the Armenian culture is an Indo-European race, made up of tribes that long inhabited the Armenian plateau. There were numerous settlements in the Ararat valley, as early as 9000 B.C. The oldest settlement found in Armenia, is a Stone Age settlement in suburban Yerevan, from 92 thousand years ago. From then thru the Paleolithic period, proof of human settlement is scattered between cave dwellings and stone inscriptions on the Geghama Lehr. Suddenly, at the end of the Mesolithic period, numerous cities and fortified settlements appeared throughout the Ararat valley, only a handful of which have been excavated. However, enough have been uncovered to show a surprisingly developed culture that actually rivaled the Mesopotamian urban centers, and even led the way in astronomy. These cities in the Ararat valley, specialized in the metal industry. Their inhabitants were the first to forge copper and bronze. Ancestral Armenians were also among the first to create a calendar that divided the year into 12 segments of time, and among the first to devise the compass and envision the shape of the world as round. The first signs of fortified cities are traced to this era, beginning with the excavation at Metsamor, a thriving trade culture by 5000 B.C. Other 5th millennium cities include Armavir, Artashen Blur, AdaBlur, and Teghut. In the 4th millennium B.C., the walls of Lechasen had been erected by Lake Sevan, while in the Ararat valley, more cities at Shengavit, Aigevan, and Aigeshat, were established, as well as a large kingdom around Metsamor, which was built by 3000 B.C. Two observatories found in Armenia, show a developed awareness of astronomy, at least by 2800 B.C., and possibly as early as the 5th millennium B.C. The appearance of the zodiac signs in Armenia, actually occurred before the Hittite and Babylonian kingdoms, which were credited with developing astronomy.

    From all of the above information, we can conclude that the Armenian culture indeed goes way back before the landing of Noah’s Ark. But, exactly how far back? We can actually find some of this information by examining the history of the Armenian language. The first god in Armenia, was one of the language’s first sounds,”AR”, which means sun or light. As the source of life, the sun became equated with power and the supreme god. Numerous words in Armenian, begin with “AR”, such as arev, arvest, araroghutyun, arj, ardarutyun, and of course, Ararat. As a matter of fact, Ararat is mentioned as early as 6000 B.C., in the Sumerian poem, Gilgamesh, as the land of the mountains where the gods live. Just from this, it’s evident that the Armenian culture/civilization goes back to as early as 6000 B.C. Wow! That’s over eight thousand years of civilization. That’s even older than the Greek or Chinese cultures. Could it possibly be that the Armenian culture is the oldest existing culture in the world today? Let’s do some more research.

  66. Armen
    What makes two million Armenian Muslims living in Turkey a threat to our nation’s security? Are they all in positions of political power? How is RoA or the Diaspora harmed if all two million walk around in Turkey confessing that they are Armenians whose ancestors had been forced into converting during the Genocide? What if a couple of them meet up at the Turkish bazaar and …. well, you know what Saroyan said about a couple of Armenians meeting up anywhere in the world.

  67. avatar Weird Turkish Guy // April 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm // Reply

    This article literally blew my mind. Things are so different than what I grew up hearing from my government, and I’m not a child, I’m 45 years old. I’ll keep following, without prejudices. Keep up.

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