By Dr. Peter Hammond, Contributing Writer
Editor’s Note: In the wake of Russell Crowe’s new movie THE WATER DIVINER, which makes Turkish Muslims look like peaceful, freedom-loving saints, it’s important to remember the many attempts by Turkish Muslims to commit genocidal mass murder against Christians in Constantinople, the Middle East, Asia Minor, and Eastern Europe, as well as Turkey and Armenia. As our friend, Dr. Peter Hammond argues in the following historical article, Christians need to understand the abhorrent history of Islam so that they can evangelize Muslims with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
24 April 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the launch of the systematic extermination of the Christian Armenians by the Ottoman Turks. The Jihad began with the arrest of 250 Christian leaders in Constantinople (what is today called Istanbul), on 24 April 1915. Over 1.5 million Christians were slaughtered by the Muslims in Turkey during 1915.
Corruption and Cruelty
The Ottoman Empire declined into corruption and degeneracy from the beginning. When Sultan Murab III died in AD 1595, his son Muhammad had his 19 brothers murdered to prevent them from claiming “his throne.” He also had seven of his father’s pregnant concubines sown into sacks and thrown into the river. Many of his nephews were incarcerated in “the cage.” Sultan Ibrahim threw his grand Vizier into a cistern. One morning, after an orgy, Ibrahim had all 300 women of his harem put into sacks and thrown into the Bosporus. Only one survived by being picked up by a ship bound for France. When Ibrahim was finally assassinated, the Ottoman Empire was torn apart by more corruption, nepotism, inefficiency, misrule, and power struggles.
A New Wave of Muslim Massacres
In the early 19th Century, after the Ottoman Empire suffered defeats at the hands of Russia and Austria, and as the Greeks and Serbs mounted successful wars of national liberation, Sultan Mahmut II decided to massacre all the Janissaries (solders recruited forcefully from Christian families). The reforms and westernization of state institutions was accompanied by escalating persecution of Christians. Despite the adopting of a Western style constitution in 1839, to placate the European powers, the last century of Ottoman rule witnessed the most thorough and complete destruction of Christian communities throughout the Middle East, Asia Minor, the Caucasus and the Balkans. In 1822, the entire population of the Island of Chios, tens of thousands of people, were massacred, or enslaved. In 1823, 8,750 Christians were slaughtered by the Turks at Missolonghi. Thousands of Assyrian Christians were murdered in the province of Mossul in 1850. In 1860 over 12,000 Christians were slaughtered in Lebanon. In 1876, 14,700 Bulgarians were murdered by the Turks. At the town of Batao, out of 7,000 inhabitants, 5,000 Christians were put to the sword.
The Scandalous Alliance
The reports of these and other routine atrocities by the Ottoman Turks were generally suppressed by the British government of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who promoted an alliance with Muslim Turkey against Christian Russia. Gladstone opposed the Turkophile policies of Disraeli in these words: “He is not such a Turk as I thought. What he hates is Christian liberty and reconstruction.” What Gladstone observed 135 years ago, could easily be applied to the foreign policies of many Western governments today: the Islamophilia in the West is not so much love of the Turk, but hatred of Christianity. As Serge Trifkovic in “The Sword of the Prophet” observes: “The great Western powers – the heirs of those who had looted Constantinople in the Crusades and refused to help when the Turks were breaking through the walls with a cannon built by an Hungarian Catholic, who forced the last Emperors to forswear their Orthodox Faith at the Council of Florence as the price of Western help that never came – those same Western powers, and Great Britain in particular, actually supported the Turkish subjugation of Christian Europeans on the grounds that the Muhammadan empire was a stabilising force and a counter-weight against Austria and Russia. The scandalous alliance with Turkey against Russia in the Crimean War reflected a pernicious frame of mind that has manifested itself more recently in the overt, covert, or de facto support of certain Western powers for the Muslim side in Bosnia, Kosova, Macedonia, Chechnya, Cyprus, Sudan, East Timor and Kashmir.”
The Forgotten Holocaust
The Turks slaughtered over 200,000 Armenian Christians in Bayazid (1877), Alashgurd (1879), Sassun (1894), Constantinople (1896), Adana (1909) and in Armenia (1895-1896). And in 1915 the Turks massacred over 1.5 million Armenian Christians in the most intensive extermination of Christians ever launched up to that point. “Passage to Ararat” describes how along the road to Adana, Turkish women were given daggers to stab dying Armenians in order to gain the credit, in the eyes of Allah, of having killed a Christian. In 1881, the Turks slaughtered the Christians in Alexandria. In 1915-1916, over a 100,000 Maronite Christians in Lebanon and Syria were murdered.
Anti-Christian Mass Murderers
It is no wonder that the British Prime Minister Gladstone described the Muslim Turks as: “They were, upon the whole, from the black day when they first entered Europe the one great anti-human specimen of humanity. Wherever they went, a broad line of blood marked the track behind them, and, as far as their dominion reached, civilisation disappeared from view. They represented everywhere government by force as opposed to government by law.”
Slaughter in Smyrna
Even as the Ottoman Empire crumbled and was replaced by the new Republic of Turkey under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk the ancient city of Smyrna, with its 300,000 Christian population, was destroyed. The burning of Smyrna and the massacre of its Christian population marked the end of Greek civilisation in Asia Minor. On the eve of its destruction, Smyrna was a bustling port and a vibrant commercial centre. The seafront promenade was a popular tourist destination.
The Martyrdom of Chrysostomos
On 9 September 1922 the Turkish mob, organized and mobilized by the Turkish army under the command of Mustafa Kemal, attacked the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Chrysostomos. The mob ripped his eyes out, and dragged him by the beard, bleeding though the streets, beating and kicking him. Every now and then, when he had the strength to do it, he would raise his right hand and bless his persecutors, repeating: “Father, forgive them.” One Turk became so infuriated at this that he cut off the Metropolitan’s hand with his sword. Father Chrysostomos was hacked to pieces by the angry mob. The burning of Smyrna began on 13 September. The inhabitants were trapped between the flames on the one side and the Turkish bayonets on the other. On 13 September 1922, the Turks burned Smyrna, the last Christian city in Asia, to the ground.
The Curse of Western Neutrality
Incredibly, British, American, Italian and French ships anchored in Smyrna’s harbour were ordered to maintain neutrality. Some of the eye witnesses described the scene: “The pitiful throng – huddled together, sometimes screaming for help, but mostly waiting in a silent panic beyond hope – didn’t budge for days. Typhoid reduced their numbers, but there was no way to dispose of the dead. Occasionally a person would swim from the dock to one of the anchored ships and try to climb the ropes and chains, only to be driven off. On the American battleships, the musicians on board were ordered to play as loudly as they could to drown out the screams of the pleading swimmers. The English poured boiling water down on the unfortunates who reached their vessel. The harbour was so clogged with corpses that the officers of the foreign battleships were often late to their dinner appointments because bodies would get entangled in the propellers of their launches… a cluster of women’s heads bound together like coconuts by their long hair floated down a river toward the harbour…”
An Unmitigated Cultural Disaster
That was the end of Christianity in Turkey. As Trifkovic observes, “At the very time that Europe achieved its military and geopolitical advantage, the moral and religious decline that culminated in the auto-genocides of 1914 and 1939 had become evident. Having found in their grasp places their Crusader predecessors had only dreamed of reclaiming: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople – effete and demoralised European governments made no effort to re-Christianise them and, within a few decades neatly abandoned them. The moral disarmament of contemporary post-Christian Europe is now nearly universal. After World War I, with the installation of nominally pro-Western governments in many Muslim countries fashioned from the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire, the West seemed to have convinced itself of the existence of benign Islam.”
Entire Christian communities were obliterated in the Middle East. The Nestorians, the Chaldeans and other Christian communities were virtually wiped out. As late as 1955, Istanbul’s Christians suffered what one reporter called “the worst race riot in Europe.”
The Most Fatal Enemies of Civilization
It is no wonder that William Muir, (1819-1905), one of the greatest Orientalist of all times, concluded at the end of a long and distinguished career: “the sword of Muhammad and the Quran are the most fatal enemies of civilization, liberty and truth which the world has yet known. . . an unmitigated cultural disaster parading as God’s will. . .”
The persecution of Christians by Muslims, and the genocide by Turkey, have become forbidden subjects in Western circles. Fourteen centuries of religious discrimination and persecution, causing the suffering, oppression, enslavement and murder of over 270 million people have been buried under a thick whitewash of myths of Islamic “tolerance.” The deceit, cowardice and silence by all too many western journalists and academics continues to facilitate religious discrimination and persecution by radical Islam to this day.
The intellectual dishonesty of those westerners who engage in academic gymnastics to justify the invasion of other people’s lands, the looting, pillaging, raping, murdering and enslaving of whole peoples, needs to be exposed. The hypocrisy of those who justify the military expansion of Muslims, but condemn those who inflicted defeats upon these Islamic invaders, needs to be challenged. The fiction that Jihad has never been an aggressive, but only a defensive concept, should be dismissed with the contempt that such deception deserves. . . . When Islam defines a refusal to submit to Sharia law under Islam as aggression, and when they define peace as submission to Islam, then we must know that we are not talking the same language.
Jihad Seeks to Conquer our Souls
As one person described it, Jihad “seeks to conquer our souls. That seeks the disappearance of our freedoms and civilisation. That seeks to annihilate our way of living and dying, our way of praying or not praying, our way of eating and drinking and dressing and entertaining and informing ourselves. We don’t understand or don’t want to understand that if we don’t oppose them, if we don’t defend ourselves, if we don’t fight, the Jihad will win. And it will destroy the world that for better or worse we’ve managed to build. . . it will destroy our culture, our art, our science, our morals, our values, our pleasures.”
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Remember the Persecuted
It is vital that we learn the lessons of History, stand up for religious freedom, speak out for freedom of conscience, expose the enemies of liberty, and fight the good fight of Faith. All the darkness cannot put out the smallest light. We need to understand Islam and we need to evangelize Muslims. Remember the persecuted.
“Remember the prisoners as if chained with them – those who are mistreated – since you yourselves are in the body also.” Hebrews 13:3
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Note: Pictured above is a march of Armenians during the 1915 Armenian Genocide committed by the Muslim population of Turkey and the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. More gruesome photos can not shown, but they resemble photos from the Jewish Holocaust during World War II committed by Hitler’s National Socialists from Germany and Austria, who were supported by many Muslims in the Middle East and beyond.