Egypt’s Largest Independent Daily Newspaper Recognizes Turkey’s Genocide Against Armenians
By Appo K. Jabarian
Executive Publisher / Managing Editor
USA Armenian Life Magazine
Executive Publisher / Managing Editor
USA Armenian Life Magazine
August 17, 2013
Turkey’s posturing in the Muslim world and especially Middle East suffered yet one more serious political blow last week when Mr. Essam Kamel, Editor-in-Chief of “Veto” Egypt’s largest independent daily newspaper wrote a scathing editorial condemning Ottoman Turkey’s genocidal dark past.
Mr. Kamel went on to criticize Turkey’s continued denial of the genocide against Armenians; and for having committed countless other atrocities and injustices against former subject peoples of the Ottoman Empire.
In my capacity as Managing Editor of USA Armenian Life Magazine, I wrote Mr. Kamel an email in both Arabic and English languages thanking him and saying: “Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for writing such a powerful article and for showing courage and integrity in addressing the historic facts of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by Ottoman Turkey.”
No later than couple hours he responded: “Greetings, genuine appreciations and then some. The position we adopt is consistent with the most basic principles of humanity. Whatever the Ottoman Empire did in Egypt is specifically in line with its mistreatment of the peaceful Armenian people. And what they did against your ancestors is beyond description and your struggle for international recognition is honorable and we share your struggle with all the means available to us. It’s our honor to do so. Please accept my sincere greetings.”
In his regular column titled “Landmines—Detonated by Essam Kamel,” the Editor-in-Chief of “Veto” Egyptian newspaper wrote: “The Egyptian government has the right to hesitate in acknowledging the massacres of Armenians by the Turkish forces due to the high incitement of Asitana (today’s Ankara) as this acknowledgement will have bad repercussions on the Egyptian-Turkish relations. This Egyptian hesitation will not stop me, the signer below — to acknowledge the genocidal collective massacres suffered by the Armenian people throughout their history during the era of Ottoman Empire, which (successor Turkey) here comes again (to Egypt) with the support of the fascist brothers (of Muslim Brotherhood).”
Quoting famous Egyptian historian Dr. Mohammad Refaat Al Imam, Mr. Kamel underlined: “As Dr. Refaat said, the Armenians are the people whom the Ottoman Empire called ‘Millet Sadiqa’ (‘The honest community’) for their loyalty and fidelity to the country and the Sultan. But despite all this, they were the most persecuted group of people in the world that was subjected to genocide throughout all their history because of their struggle for their rights. Like the Egyptian saying goes, “Nihayat khedmatel-ghaz alka)” (which means to say “not just one episode of tragedy but an endless chain of persecutions were befallen on Armenians” – so Armenians weren’t just stricken once but they got slaughtered, looted and killed in the streets like nobody else in the history of the Ottoman Empire. There was a whole Army called “Firak Al Khayala Al-Hamidia” (“Hamidian Horse Rider Units”) named after the Sultan Abdel Hamid who executed not just hundreds but actually thousands in the streets and the genocidal massacres did not occur away from the view of the world, but it was witnessed and known by everybody.”
He added: “Some of the chapters of the Armenian tragedy that was recounted in the history books and was known afterwards, was a result of the famous rebellion in Sassoon in 1894 when the massacres against the defenseless people started October 13 of the same year and lasted until November 30 of the following year where more than 100 thousand people died and more than half a million Armenians were rendered homeless. The city of Raha alone suffered gruesome massacres on 28 and 29 of December, 1895 where 3000 Armenians were burned and died in the streets. Around 117 years ago, specifically on 26 August, 1896, and after being fed up and frustrated with the situation, a group of Armenian youth who belonged to the Tashnaq party took over the Ottoman Bank in Asitana (Constantinople – modern day Istanbul) and took hostages. They offered to release the hostages if the Ottoman Empire would promise to ameliorate life for Armenians and would recognize their rights. When the Ottoman Empire failed to control the situation, Russia helped solving it by offering the combatants to leave the country in a French ship and guaranteed their safety on condition that the Ottoman Empire improves the life of Armenians. As the Armenian youth were getting onto the ship, the Sultan and Turkish units were committing massacres against Armenians in the streets to the extent that they killed the entire Armenian population of (‘Kassem quarters’) ‘Hay Kassem Basha’ and the (‘Jewish Quarters’) ‘Hay al Yahoudi’.”
He further wrote: “These are some of the aspects of Turkish Genocide against Armenians, as the Turks were never civilized. They never maintained a heritage of illumination. They didn’t follow the (Islamic) religious tenets of love and tolerance, but they were tools for sabotage, destruction and killings. They were always known for that and that’s what we witnessed in our country (Egypt). When they were occupying our country, they plundered our wealth, they cursed our country and spread hatred and ignorance among our people for the whole period of what they called the Ottoman Caliphate (Succession) (Al Khilafa Al-Othmania).”
Mr. Kamel concluded lambasting Turkey: “That’s what the (Turkish) state is attempting — helping and supporting Mohammad Morsi to come back to power and once again to rule us and take over our country and plunder our wealth in the name of religion just like they did before. Religion is never about what they are doing.”
Shedding light on Turkey’s black pages of massive and systematic Armenian annihilation, he noted: “Whoever follows the facts on Armenian massacres is very aware of the humanitarian tragedy that surrounded a nation that until today is still insisting on its identity. And whoever reads the dark history of the Turks and their Empire will know very well why Erdogan is supporting the terrorist brotherhoods. And whoever reads what the Armenians went through will definitely acknowledge the collective genocide that Turkey perpetrated against a defenseless people.”
Soon after embattled President Morsi’s fall from power Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made no secret of being wary of Muslim-Brotherhood-backed Mohammed Morsii’s fall and of Egypt’s non-Islamist opposition gaining regional momentum, much like the Arab uprisings. Mr. Erdogan’s radical Islamist meddling in Egypt’s internal affairs has antagonized large segments of the Egyptian society all the way from the streets to the highest echelons of the most populous Arab state.
It seems that Mr. Kamel’s commentary acknowledging the Armenian Genocide comes at a time when public discussions in Egypt have been multiplying and popular consensus has been fast building in support of official recognition of Armenian Genocide.
Obviously it’s not a matter of “if.”It’s a matter of “when” Egypt will set a morally healthy example in Asia and Africa ushering in a new era free of imperial neo-ottoman Turkish presence in Egypt and the region.
Egypt also stands to regain her leadership role in the Arab world by keeping Erdogan’s fascist Islamist-backing Turkey at bay, setting the stage for Pan-Arab nationalism’s victory over Turkish-backed misguided Pan-Islamism.