It turns out that Armenian killings continue all over Turkey in patriotic celebrations, and new photographs reveal that Turkey’s president Abdullah Gül participated in a February 12, 2008 ceremony where French soldiers of Armenian descent were killed by the Turkish army in a theatrical play.
Image: Turkish president Abdullah Gül (right) cheers after a Muslim Turk, portrayed by one of the locals in Marash during a February 12, 2008 celebration, kills French-uniformed Armenians for forcing Muslim women to remove their veils. Gül seems to invest on hatred against Armenians in his goal to lift headscarf ban in Turkish schools.
Set to commemorate Turkish nationalists’ ”liberation” of Marash, an Ottoman Armenian city under French occupation following the Genocide, the February 12 event recalls Turkish interpretation of the 1919 Marash events in Cilicia, the region of Armenia’s last kingdom currently part of Turkey. In the words of Turkish nationalist historian Ahmet Eyicil:
Among the French troops that came to Maraş were 40 Muslims from Alegeria and 4000 Armenians. The Armenians patrolling the city in French uniforms began to harass the women and suppress the people . They told to women “will you wander around under veil?” and forced them to “open your veils.” A retired Gendarme Çakmakcı Sait who was trying to prevent the Armenians harassing the women was shot and wounded. He later became a martyer. The Armenians, which came to the city in groups of 500 in French uniforms, asked the people where the whorehouse was. They later chanted the slogans “long live the Clichia Armenia. Down with the people against it.” Furthermore, they trampled on brade they bought from a store.The Armenians started to disturb the people on the streets from 31 October 1919, the second day of the French occupation. The indigenous Armenians gave alcoholic beverages to the newcomers. Some of the Armenian drunken soldiers molested the Muslim women coming out of historical Uzun Oluk baths. They force them to open their veils shouting “this is not a Turkish city any more . You can not walk around with veils. You must open your faces.” The women screamed for help. Upon all these a Turk named Imam who was selling milk in the neighboring shop came out shouting “you infidels! That is enough!” He pulled his gun and killed one and wounded two of them. This incident known as “Sütcü Imam or Uzunoluk incident” in the history spark off a great fight between the Armenians and the Turks . Two more Armenians were killed and fourteen people from both sides got wounded . This increased the Armenian oppression and the atrocities. The Armenians supported by the French started to shot each Muslim they met on the spot saying “this must be from Kuvay-I- milliye.” They started to kill the men and rape the women.
Interestingly, this celebration not only testifies to the omnipresent and seen-as-normal hatred against Armenians in Turkey, but also President Gül’s attempt to manipulate hatred against Armenians for his Islamic party’s cause to lift headscarf ban in universities.
The Marash celebration where Armenian men are killed after attacking Muslim civilians is only one in a series of theatrical plays in Turkey that have apparently been going on since the Armenian population was exterminated in what is today Turkey during and after WWI. Some Turkish newspapers criticized earlier this year the theatrical killing of Armenians in Van and in Erzurum, both former Armenian cities in modern Turkey. While this is the first year when some Turks are expressing outrage against the theatrical killings – perhaps in the light of Hrant Dink’s assassination – the celebrations, many say, have been going on for 90 years.