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Turkey's Dark Past By: Gamaliel Isaac
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, November 22, 2004


On November 16, 2004, Frontpage magazine posted an article from the New Europe Review, by Mustafa Akyol, titled "European Muslims and the Quest for the Soul of Islam." In the article Akyol argued that a new more tolerant interpretation of Islam should be constructed and that "A great deal of shariah laws — like killing of apostates, stoning of adulterers, seclusion of women, compulsory prayer, required dress code, punishments for drinking or even possessing alcohol — have simply no basis in the Qur'an." He wrote that Turkey has an Islamic heritage free of anti-Westernism and anti-Semitism and argued that it will benefit the West if Turkey is admitted into the European Union.

Does Turkey have an Islamic Heritage Free of anti-Westernism and anti-Semitism?

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."

Marjorie Housepian in her book The Smyrna Affair, quoted a missionary eyewitness who said the Turkish Muslims actually enjoyed massacring the Armenian Christians. He said:

"The slaughter of the Armenians was a joy to the Turks, a massacre was heralded by the blowing of trumpets and concluded by a procession. Accompanied by the prayers of the mullahs and muezzins, who from the minarets implored the blessings of Allah, the slaughter was accomplished in admirable order according to a well arranged plan. The crowd, supplied with arms by the authorities, joined most amicably with the soldiers and the Kurdish Hamidieh on these festive occasions. The Turkish women stimulated their heroes by raising a gutteral shriek of their war cry, the Zilghit, and deafening the hopeless despair of their victims by singing their nuptial songs. A kind of wild cannibal humour seized the crowd...the savage crew did not even spare the children."

The Turks have committed atrocities against other minorities as well, The Tower of skulls of Chele Kula shown below, is a monument to the Turkish savagery against the Serbs in the early 1800s.

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Lest we think "Well that was ancient history", as recently as 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus. Just as the Romans renamed Israel, Palestine in order to erase the memory of the Jewish State, the Turks have renamed all the cities and towns in Cyprus. They have also destroyed concrete evidence of the Christian and Greek history of the area of Cyprus under their control. According to an article in the Guardian ('The Rape of northern Cyprus', 5.6.1976)

"...The vandalism and desecration are so methodical and so widespread that they amount to institutionalized obliteration of everything sacred to a Greek [...] In some instances, an entire graveyard of 50 or more tombs had been reduced to pieces or rubble no larger than a matchbox...we found the chapel of Ayios Demetrios at Ardhana empty but for the remains of the altar plinth, and that was fouled with human excrement[...] At Syngrasis [...] the broken crucifix was drenched in urine.. At Lefkoniko [...the interior of Gaidhouras church...] was overlooked by an armless Christ on a smashed crucifix.. Tombs gaped open wherever we went... crosses bearing the pictures of those buried beneath [...] had been flattened and destroyed."

Cypriots who oppose the Turks are treated severely; in 1996 the Greek Cypriot demonstrator, Anastasios (Tasos) Isaak, was beaten to death by the Turkish occupation forces. According to the Greek Cypriot Magazine Selides. August, 1996, one thousand six hundred and nineteen Greek Cypriots and Greeks who were taken as prisoners of war during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus are still missing.

The Turkish Heritage of Anti-Semitism

Although there have indeed been periods when Turkey has been more tolerant of Jews than Christian Europe, Mustapha Akyol’s claim that Turkey has an Islamic heritage free of anti-semitism is false. Andrew Bostom, in his article Turkish "Tolerance of Jews", A Sobering Historical Assessment" quotes Professor Maoz who wrote that:

"Like their Christian fellow subjects, the Jews were inferior citizens in the Muslim-Ottoman state which was based on the principle of Muslim superiority. They were regarded as state protégés (dhimmis) and had to pay a special poll tax (jizya) for that protection and as a sign of their inferior status. Their testimony was not accepted in the courts of justice, and in cases of the murder of a Jew or Christian by a Muslim, the latter was usually not condemned to death. In addition, Jews as well as Christians were normally not acceptable for appointments to the highest administrative posts; they were forbidden to carry arms (thus, to serve in the army), to ride horses in towns or to wear Muslim dress. They were also not usually allowed to build or repair places of worship and were often subjected to oppression, extortion and violence by both the local authorities and the Muslim population."

Professor Tudor Parfitt in his comprehensive study of the Jews of Palestine during the 19th century wrote about the Turkish oppression of the Jews of Palestine as follows:

"…Inside the towns, Jews and other dhimmis were frequently attacked, wounded, and even killed by local Muslims and Turkish soldiers. Such attacks were frequently for trivial reasons: Wilson [in British Foreign Office correspondence] recalled having met a Jew who had been badly wounded by a Turkish soldier for not having instantly dismounted when ordered to give up his donkey to a soldier of the Sultan. Many Jews were killed for less. On occasion the authorities attempted to get some form of redress but this was by no means always the case: the Turkish authorities themselves were sometimes responsible for beating Jews to death for some unproven charge. After one such occasion [British Consul] Young remarked: ‘I must say I am sorry and surprised that the Governor could have acted so savage a part- for certainly what I have seen of him I should have thought him superior to such wanton inhumanity- but it was a Jew- without friends or protection- it serves to show well that it is not without reason that the poor Jew, even in the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his life’."

During World War I in Palestine, the embattled Young Turk government actually began deporting the Jews of Tel Aviv in the spring of 1917 - an ominous parallel to the genocidal deportations of the Armenian dhimmi communities throughout Anatolia. A Reuters press release regarding the deportation states that:

" on April 1 [1917] an order was given to deport all the Jews from Tel Aviv, including citizens of the Central Powers, within forty-eight hours. A week before, three hundred Jews were expelled from Jerusalem: Jamal Pasha [one of the triumvirate of Young Turk supreme leaders, Minister of the Navy, and commander of the Fourth Army in the Levant] declared that their fate would be that of the Armenians; eight thousand deportees from Tel Aviv were not allowed to take any provisions with them, and after the expulsion their houses were looted by Bedouin mobs; two Yemenite Jews who tried to oppose the looting were hung at the entrance to Tel Aviv so that all might see, and other Jews were found dead in the Dunes around Tel Aviv."

It was not clear why the slaughter did not occur. One hypothesis put forth by the British Zionist movement suggested that the advance of the British army (from immediately adjacent Egypt) and its potential willingness "..to hold the military and Turkish authorities directly responsible for a policy of slaughter and destruction of the Jews" may have averted this disaster.

Turkish hostility to the Jews during World War II led them to refuse to allow Jews to flee Hitler into Turkey. In one instance 769 Jews packed an old, dilapidated cattle boat called the Struma and made it to the shores of Turkey. The Turks denied them entry and eventually towed them out to sea where they sank.

The Pro-Western Leanings of Turkey

Although it is wrong to say, as Mustapha Akyol did, that Turkey has a pro-Western heritage, the fact that Turkey has been a member of the NATO alliance since 1952 and has a democratic government suggests that there are influential people with pro-Western and pro-democratic sentiments in Turkey. Unfortunately the influence of Turkey's great Westernizing leader Kemal Ataturk is waning, and there is growing pro-fundamentalist Islamic sentiment in Turkey. The Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Survey from March this year noted that "in Turkey "as many as 31 percent say that suicide attacks against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq are justifiable." The growing pro-Islamist sentiment in Turkey is the reason why the Turkish army has been forced more than once to overthrow democratically elected Islamic leaders who might have turned Turkey back into a Shariah state. The recent election of Mr. Erdogan as Prime Minister of Turkey raises such concerns again. Before his election, Mr. Erdogan was convicted of inciting religious hatred because of a speech he gave at a political rally in 1998. Under Erdogan’s leadership Turkey is trading with Iran despite U.S. calls to isolate Iran. It is possible that Turkey’s membership in the NATO alliance has less to do with pro-Western sentiment than with fear of Russia and eagerness to benefit from the generous military and economic aid from the United States that comes with being an American ally. Likewise the desire of Turkey to join the European Union is based on hopes that such a move would help the Turkish economy.

The Missing Step Toward Islamic Tolerance

In his article, Mr. Akyol outlined a series of steps for Muslims and the West to take to reduce Islamic militance and to encourage tolerance among Muslims. One of those steps was for France to allow Muslim girls to wear head scarves in French public schools. This suggestion ignores the reason France had to impose this rule to begin with. Muslims were intimidating both Muslim and non-Muslim girls into wearing head scarves against their will. Although Mr. Akyol may be right that further Muslim militance may result from the French law, the French law was made necessary by Muslim militance to begin with.

Mr. Akyol outlined a series of steps for Muslims to take to reduce Islamic militance but he left out the most important step which is that Muslims should acknowledge that the attacks on infidels that they have committed in the name of Islam are wrong. U.S. ambassador James Gerald wrote that "The principles of Justice are more important than oil or the railroads" and that "the Turks should not be accepted into the society of decent nations until they show sincere repentance for their crimes."

Another step Mustapha Akyol listed was to replace Shariah with a new interpretation of Islam. He wrote, "A great deal of shariah laws — like killing of apostates, .. have simply no basis in the Qur'an." While reform of Islam is indeed essential, the killing of apostates has a basis in the Koran. The command to "Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. " is from the Koran ( 9:5). So is the command: "Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips of them. (8:12)". This command is undoubtedly treated as religious grounds by those who commit the many recent beheadings in Iraq.

Should Turkey be Admitted into the European Union?

There is one overriding reason to be concerned about admitting Turkey into the European Union, and that is the potential effect of Turkish membership on the Muslim population of European countries which are already having serious problems as a result of their large Islamic populations. If Turkey joins the EU, a significant percentage of Turkey's over 60 million Muslims may enter Europe. Furthermore, many millions of Muslims from other Islamic countries are likely to use Turkey as their gateway to Europe. Once they attain legal status in Turkey, these Muslims from other Islamic countries will be free to go anywhere in Europe.

It may be that it is already too late for Europe. The countries of Europe are slowly becoming subjugated to hostile rapidly growing Muslim populations. Bat Yeor in an article in frontpagemagazine (Arafat’s Legacy for Europe 11/16/04) wrote that,

"Islamist terror from within and without is overwhelming Europe. Today it is not uncommon to hear Europeans express their disgust for Europe and their wish to emigrate. Europe, they say, is dead and has no future."

In its jealousy of American power and determination to create a counter-power, France, with support from Germany, has looked to ally itself with Islamic countries in order to help create that counterweight to the United States. On October 26, 2004, France and Germany stood behind Turkey’s campaign to join the European Union. Admitting the Turkish Trojan Horse may give them the power to counter the United States but the price they will pay will be further subjugation to a growing hostile European Muslim population.




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