My sometime sparring partner Mustafa Akyol has, in the course of his writings on moderate Islam, defended Turkey’s historical record. Today in FrontPage (thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist), Gamaliel Isaac takes issue with this characterization of Turkish history — and emphasizes that this is a key question today in light of Turkey’s application to join the EU.
The statement of Mr Akyol that Turkey has an Islamic Heritage free of anti-westernism and anti-semitism is inaccurate. We need only look at Turkey”s long history of conquest of Western countries and persecution of conquered westerners.
In the 14th century Turkey conquered Hungary, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Romania. Turkey was stopped only as it lay seige to Vienna. For hundreds of years thereafter Turks oppressed and engaged in periodic slaughters of their Christian subjects. In his history of Islam, The Sword and The Prophet, Serge Trifkovic wrote about the history of the Turkish oppression of the Armenian Christians as follows:
“The Ottomans lurched from outrage to outrage. Regular slaughters of Armenians in Bayazid (1877), Alashgurd (1879), Sassun (1894), Constantinople (1896), Adana (1909) and Armenia itself (1895-96) claimed a total of two hundred thousand lives, but they were only rehearsals for the genocide of 1915. The slaughter of Christians in Alexandria in 1881 was only a rehearsal for the artificial famine induced by the Turks in 1915-16 that killed over a hundred thousand Maronite Christians in Lebanon and Syria. So imminent and ever-present was the peril, and so fresh the memory of these events in the minds of the non-Moslems, that illiterate Christian mothers dated events as so many years before or after “such and such a massacre.” Across the Middle East, the bloodshed of 1915-1922 finally destroyed ancient Christian communities and cultures that had survived since Roman times-groups like the Jacobites (Syrian Orthodox), Nestorians (Iraqi Orthodox), and Chaldaeans (Iraqi Catholic)…
The burning of the Greek city of Smyrna and the massacre and scattering of its three hundred thousand Christian inhabitants is one of the most poignant – if not, after the vast outrages of the 20th century, the bloodiest – crimes in all history. It marked the end of the Greek community in Asia Minor. On the eve of its destruction, Smyrna was a bustling port and commercial center. It was a genuinely civilized, in the old-world sense, place. An American consul-general later remembered a busy social life that included teas, dances, musical afternoons, games of tennis and bridge, and soirees given in the salons of the highly cultured Armenian and Greek bourgeoisie.
Sic gloria transit: sporadic killings of Christians, mostly Armenians, started as soon as the Turks overran it on September 9, 1922. Within days, they escalated to mass slaughter. It did not “get out of hand,” however, in the sense of an uncontrolled chaos perpetrated by an uncommanded military rabble. The Turkish military authorities deliberately escalated it. The Greek Orthodox Bishop Chrysostomos remained with his flock. “It is the tradition of the Greek Church and the duty of the priest to stay with his congregation,” he replied to those begging him to flee. The Moslem mob fell upon him, uprooted his eyes and, as he was bleeding, dragged him by his beard through the streets of the Turkish quarter, beating and kicking him. Every now and then, when he had the strength to do so, he would raise his right hand and blessed his persecutors. A Turk got so furious at this gesture that he cut off his hand with his sword. He fell to the ground, and was hacked to pieces by the angry mob. The carnage culminated in the burning of Smyrna, which started on September 13 when the Turks put the Armenian quarter to torch and the conflagration engulfed the city. The remaining inhabitants were trapped at the seafront, from which there was no escaping the flames on one side, or Turkish bayonets on the other. This was the end of Christianity in Asia Minor, whose history goes back to events recorded in the New Testament itself.”
Read it all.