The problem of the perception of the immigrant Armenians and their descendants by the Muslims in the Turkish state is, in our opinion, not secondary and even noteworthy.

It is no secret that the Turkish state, neither at the state level nor at the level of public opinion, does not consider the converted Armenians as “true Muslims”, and this attitude has not changed even today. The evidence is abundant: Suffice it to mention the case of the inclusion of converted Armenians in some of the sanctions imposed by the state in the Republic of Turkey.

Islamized Armenians admit that even if they accept Islam, they do not consider themselves to be true Muslims, and the epithets of giaour and apostate always accompany them. For example, Zeynep Yilmaz, 85, a converted Armenian from Sasun, who was recognized as a devout Muslim, prayed and was believed to be a better Muslim than her Muslim husband, said: “We were Armenians, we became Muslims, but when the time comes, Muslims tell us, ‘You are an Armenian. We cannot get rid of this.”

Bagrat Estukyan also addressed this issue, noting that Islamized Armenians and their descendants are still considered Armenians: “They never accept it, they say, yes, that village is a Gavur village, they are Armenians. You cannot change the environment, it is an Armenian village for generations, but when they come to the city everything changes.”

It is also interesting to know the views of Turkish racist nationalists on who is a Turk, and in the same context to see how they treat non-Turks who are alienated to different degrees.  Thus, Nihal Atsız (1905-1975), one of the pioneers of Turkism, answers the question of who is a Turk in 1934 in his article titled “Turkish race═Turkish nation” published in the magazine “Orkun” as follows: “For Turks, nation is first and foremost a matter of blood. In other words, one who says he is a Turk must be of the Turkish tribe. However, a person with foreign blood is not a Turk, even if he speaks no language other than Turkish.”


Henceforth, it can be stated once again that the problem of forcibly Islamized Armenians in Western Armenia is multilayered, and therefore, it is necessary to adopt an approach appropriate to each layer. It should also be noted that the descriptions and assessments presented in the analytical series about the groups of converted Armenians and the processes taking place among them are the result of the studies conducted so far. However, it is not excluded that in the future, with the continuation of the studies, new layers of problems and phenomena will emerge that will require certain adjustments to the already established approaches. 

At the same time, it should be emphasized that the issue of forcibly Islamized Armenians in Western Armenia remains a closed, taboo subject, and Hrant Dink realized on this occasion that it is difficult to talk about those killed during the Armenian pogroms in the Turkish state, but it is even more difficult to talk about the survivors in different ways (including conversion).  All this at the same time complicates the task of studying the issue and coming up with an objective, complete picture. It is also important to clearly recognize that the issue of the converted Armenians in the Turkish state is fraught with open and hidden dangers, and that unnecessary manipulation of the issue, misinterpretations and emotional approaches can lead to serious problems. 

Therefore, it is an immediate necessity to adopt a careful and professional approach to this issue. A proper study and analysis of the emerging facts will make it possible to develop a specific communication plan with different converted  Armenian groups, which should be non-political and mostly based on the cultural dimension.

Ashkhen Virabyan

Journalist-analyst Westernarmeniatv