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The Greeks of Constantinoupolis - Part Two

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The Greeks of Constantinoupolis - Part Two


Ted Karakostas

The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the last remnant of a civilization and culture (Byzantium). It survived the Ottoman empire to face a new repression under Turkey's secular nationalists. Turkey's secular establishment has never done anything to preserve or support the well being of this unique institution which played a significent role in both the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. The Turkish state preserves Aghia Sophia and other Byzantine monuments as museums and sees the advantage of preserving these monuments which are lifeless. The Patriarchate, in contrast is a living institution, active and significent for millions of Orthodox worldwide and attracts Orthodox clerics from America, Greece, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania as well as the Vatican and World Council of Churches.

The Turkish government has tragically not seen the advantage of preserving such an important religious and historical institution. The Islamic movement seeks to create  a theocracy as in Ottoman times. It has one thing in common with the military in it's goal to completely eradicate Christianity and Hellenism from it's soil.

As with other totalitarian movements, Turkey's fundamentalists seek to eradicate culture and civilization. There is an active movement to convert Aghia Sophia back into a Mosque,which means the great mosaics in the Church will be eradicated. Kemal  banned the word "Constantinople" when he renamed it Istanbul. The Islamists are ready to finish the job by erasing all vestigaes of the city's Greek past. A New York Times article "Discontent seethes in Once thriving Turkey" published on March 2, 1995 referred to a proposal to destroy the walls of the old city: ".....and advocating but disavowing a proposal after it created a storm-that Istanbul's ancient walls be torn down as a symbol of Byzantine Christendom".

The process of ethnic cleansing of the Greeks of Turkey is on the verge of being completed. The Patriarchate is the last life of Hellenism and Orthodoxy in the city. It's removal or dismantling will signify the success of Turkey in it's quiet and successful destruction of an entire culture. Following the bombing of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in December 1997, a Greek caretaker at a Church was murdered.

Shortly after, a Greek Church on Imbros was destroyed.On April 3, 1998 Reuters reported: "Unknown attackers have desecrated 72 Greek Orthodox graves in Istanbul, state run Anatolian news agency said on Friday. It said the attackers broke gravestones and opened 15 tombs, breaking crosses and covering the area with bones taken from one of the graves at a cemetary in the city's Kurtulus district".

On September 14, 2004, the Greek American National Herald Newspaper reported that the Turkish Military and National Security Council refused to allow the reopening of the Halki Seminary. Subsequently, Foreign Minister  Abdullah Gul has stated that Turkey will not recognize the "Ecumenical"  status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In October 2004, the Ecumenical Patriarchate was bombed yet again by fanatics.

The Grey Wolves routinely demonstrate outside the Phanar and burn the Patriarch in effigy. Last fall, the Prinkipos orphanage was confiscated from the Greek community of Constantinople by the Turkish government. The only thing that has changed in Turkey from the previous years and decades is that there are now few Greeks left in Constantinople, Imbros, and Tenedos. The policies of persecution, discrimination, and overall ethnic cleansing are still very much in place. Nothing has changed for the Greeks since 1922 or 1955.


Back to Part One

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 October 2019 14:38  
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