Showing posts with label Ottoman Empire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ottoman Empire. Show all posts

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Must Reads: Middle East Minority Perspectives

Some important international headlines to ponder, glued as we've been to East Coast hurricane news and U.S. presidential campaign coverage:

The largest Christian denomination in the Middle East, the Coptic Orthodox in Egypt, named a new leader this weekend, the BBC reports. The photos are inspiring, with an explanation of how the choice among the top-three candidates was left "in the hands of God."

From the New Yorker: An absolutely gripping tale about a U.S. Iraq war veteran who, tormented by a battle where Americans killed civilians including three members of an Armenian Christian family, sought out his victims' relatives now living in California. In a story highlighed by NPR and Charlie Rose, read how Dexter Filkins' interviews at a Baghdad hospital and subsequent stories facilitated forgiveness from the sins of war. Journalism at its best.

Then, a BBC essay on Izmir, the West Coast city once called Smyrna. It is among the Turkish locales flooded with Syrian refugees. This piece addresses what we have been asked to forget: Turkey still is "scarred by wanton killing and destruction in World War I." Fergan Keane writes,
"Gone are the streets in which the voices of Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Levantines and Jews mingled ... prayed and made music and told stories in the narrow lanes of the bazaar and by the glittering water of the Aegean."
That brings us to New York Times review last week of wildly popular Turkish movie, "Conquest 1453," dramatizing the Ottoman capture of Constantinople, now Istanbul. Fascination with the era has launched TV shows and other projects. The author juxtaposes opinion:
  • Says Melis Behlil, a film studies professor at Kadir Has University: “The Ottoman revival is good for the national ego" ... but films like "Conquest 1453 are engaging in cultural revisionism and glorifying the past without looking at history in a critical way."
  • Says Burak Temir, a German-Turkish actor who learned to sword fight and use a bow and arrow for an Ottoman-era show: “It makes me proud to be Turkish.”
Turkey is diligently working to establish its political dominance as Egypt, Iraq and Syria struggle. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan just met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, underscoring tensions as Turkey pushes 2023 membership in the European Union, reports Der Speigel, the German newspaper. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz emphasizes his plans to visit the Gaza strip.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"warts & all"

The New York Times offers up Turkey as the model for Egypt's reformation - with a twist of Islam. Fascinating that the first quote comes from a formerly objective journalist, Hugh Pope, who is now an apologist for Turkey. The model offers little hope for Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Christians. Will Copts continue to live without adequate protection, and dwindle in numbers -- and in unsavory ways -- like the minorities trapped in the demise of Ottoman Turkey? In Alexandria, a church bomb killed more than 20 in December, the most recent on a long list of intimidations.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Iraqi Christians

A week ago, I got a note from someone in Baghdad saying that insurgents were offering $100 rewards for murdering Christians there. Today, the New York Times writes that Iraq's Christians are fleeing en masse because they feel unprotected, and they are going to the Kurdish region and even Turkey - an irony given historic ethnic conflicts. Many of these Iraqi Christians consider themselves Assyrians, the ancient Mesopotamian tribe that predated Christianity and was present across the Ottoman Empire. (Read the book "Not Even My Name," containing Sano Halo's testimony about her starvation march through Turkey, dictated to her daughter Thea Halo.) Following World War I, some Assyrians fled from Iran to Iraq, where others had lived for centuries. They also went to Chicago, where the Assyrian (Chaldean) Church has a quiet presence. This issue illustrates how overzealous missionaries divided Chrisitianity and rendered it powerless in some regions. We should all be one.