ANKARA: Islamized Armenians Voice Their 100 Years In ‘Purgatory’


Hurriyet Daily news, Turkey
Nov 6 2013

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily News
Vercihan Ziflioglu

Muslim Armenians say they are left in between “in a purgatory,”
saying they are accepted by neither Turkey nor the Armenian Patriarch
and community.

Gathering at a conference titled “Islamized Armenians” held at
Istanbul’s Bogazici University, members of the community gave details
about their lives, mostly spent hiding their identities in the eastern
and southeastern provinces of Turkey.

“They ask what we have gone through and I answer, ‘What haven’t we
gone through?’ All through our lives we have been in purgatory,”
said one of the participants, identified as Sadık from Adıyaman.

The feeling of not being accepted by different cultures in society
has defined their lives, Sadık added. “I was staying at a boarding
school, and the other kids called me ‘infidel.’ I didn’t know what
this meant, I just thought they didn’t like me,” he said.

Berfin, a 23-year-old who is studying the question of Muslim Armenians
for her Master’s degree at Oxford University, said her identity was
also problematic abroad.

“When I applied to a student dormitory in France, they asked me for a
baptism document, and they did not accept me when I couldn’t provide
one. Yes, Christian Armenians have had huge problems, too, but they
went on to live their identities in one way or another. We have had
to live on through 100 years of silent desperation,” Berfin said.

Another participant, only identified as H.T., said Muslim Armenians
were trying to practice Christian practices in their homes but were
trying to behave as Muslims outside.

“We said, ‘Living is resisting,’ and so we stayed on our feet.

Whatever we did, we were called infidels. Now the Christian Armenians
don’t accept us either, so we are left in between,” H.T. said, adding
that they were still trying to hide their identities today.

Responding to a question on renowned Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant
Dink, who was killed in Istanbul in 2007, H.T. said, “Yes, we fear.”

One of Dink’s lawyers, Cem Halavurt, also attended the conference. He
said that he personally did not fear revealing his identity, but
also thought the Armenian Patriarch and other Istanbul Armenians were
right to act with prudence.

“There is still a taboo of missionaries in this country. Even the
slightest step by the Patriarch could be seen as a missionary act,”
Halavurt said.


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