'I do not want the Armenian people to be assimilated in Europe...'

'I do not want the Armenian people to be assimilated in Europe. I do not want them to go into oblivion. They should flourish even more. They should be awakened even more.'

AN INTERVIEW WITH Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu of Istanbul

By Appo Jabarian
Executive Publisher/Managing Editor
USA Armenian Life Magazine

Last week's issue of USA Armenian Life featured an interview with the courageous "Baadvelee" (Reverend) Krikor Aghabaloghlu, the pastor of the Gedik Pasha Armenian Evangelical Church in Istanbul.

The interview took place during Rev. Aghabaloghlu' s visit with the Armenian American community in San Francisco on May 19-21.

The following is the second and final part of the interview:

USA Armenian Life: During the first four months of this year, two earth-shaking murders took place in Turkey.

Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Three of them took place. Yesterday they killed five more.

USA Armenian Life: Later on, if possible, please give some details on the third murder. The first one was on January 19, when the extremist Turks murdered the Armenian journalist and editor of "Agos" Hrant Dink. The second one, if I'm not mistaken, was on April 18, in Malatia when three non-Armenian Christians - one German and two Turkish Christians - were murdered. So, on the occasion of these murders and according to many sources, there is a forecast that these events will become more frequent. Do you agree that this will be so?

Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: My brother, now you know what can happen. During the last few years, the missionary work has multiplied.

Why did it multiply? Because the Turkish people are sending missionaries to Europe. The Muslims are preparing missionaries and are sending them to Europe. They are saying, "We should Islamize all of Europe. We should Islamize all of America." They are working very hard by making a lot of effort. The European Christians and the American Christians are saying, "These people are coming and they want to convert us to Islam. So, let's go to Turkey and let's preach!"

USA Armenian Life: Convert them to Christianity!

Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: That's it! It's not something else. But for them "all roads shall be open. For the Christians the roads shall be obstructed." That's not fair! If you do as you like, in return others have to be able to do what they like.

USA Armenian Life: There should be equality.

Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Yes, there should be. Some people come forward and claim: "No! These people are not coming to preach Christianity. They are coming to take our homeland away from us, to divide us. They are coming with bad intentions."

And the Turkish people are obedient to their superiors. If one lone (Turkish) professor asserts the way things are, they’ll blindly believe him. The masses begin to believe that "missionary activity is a bad thing; these people are not coming just to distribute the Bible. They have a special plan thing. They will undermine Turkey and take it away from us. Then what! The entire Christianity is our enemy."

There is something else: America went and hit Iraq. Isn't that so? Now, they are saying: "Why did America hit Iraq? Iraq is Muslim, that's why! They don't want Muslim countries to prosper. Also, all Christians are the enemies of the Muslims."

They always talk, talk, talk like this. And they write in the books and via the television. They fill the people's brain. Then, what will the average people do? It will become the enemy of the Armenian people, the enemy of the Christian Turks, because Christianity is animosity for those people. "They are trying to take his country away from him."

And there is the secret government and military people (the Deep State/).

Let me tell you. There is a retired colonel, a government person who after my televised talk told his Christian neighbor: "Had this Krikor lived on my street I would have killed him or would have expelled him with his family. He would not have been able to enter that street." He lives in the Army. Now he is retired. This shows that there are people like him who have animosity against the Armenians. What do they do with that?

These people or the secret police secretly infiltrate among the youth who congregate in big cities in great numbers and through secret methods relay to them thoughts such as, "I wish someone would kill Krikor. We would be so happy. If you do it, you will be a courageous person. You will be a hero! And then what will you become? We will hand the Turkish flag. We'll take your photo." You have seen similar photos haven't you?

USA Armenian Life: Yes.

Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Isn't it so? This shows that that flag is tarnished with Christian blood. And these people feel proud and encourage others. Now he enters into prison. And how do they greet him? Do you know how? Like Turkish princes. And he gets encouragement from other youth.

Now they have come up with a new law. They say that they will prepare new books so that they could explain "this so-called Armenian Genocide; how the Armenians massacred the Turks. We will teach all our students, all of them."

And special professors are prepared. They are sent among the soldiers. They give lessons to the soldiers. They are sent abroad to give lessons. They always, always tell these lies. And like this by repeatedly telling these, what do you do? You corrupt the youth's thoughts and you encourage them by telling them "Go, kill!"

USA Armenian Life: Courageous Reverend of the Armenians, during your sermons, you empower and encourage Christianity, courageous Christianity, active Christianity to which the Armenian people have been attached. What message would you like to relay to the Armenian Americans and, for that matter, to the entire Diaspora Armenians?

Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Brother, now, in a foreign country, the people are comfortable. The comfort brings heaviness upon the man. It brings sleep. Now we are over there, in a Muslim country. There is always a watcher. They keep you awake.

And you exert effort to stay awake. Here, (in the Diaspora) there is no problem. They come her and they go to sleep. They indulge in European traditions. They submerge into the lifestyle and they get lost!

I do not want the Armenian people to be assimilated in Europe. I do not want to go into oblivion. They should flourish even more. They should be awakened even more. Here, everything is in your hands. You should grab it and use it so that you can introduce and promote the Armenian nation among other nations. This is necessary. That is why I come, and speak courageously with God's grace. I want to encourage people, to awaken them, and to promote unity. That is the most difficult thing, because for many years, there hasn't been a strong organization that could bring us closer, you know.

There is only the Genocide issue. But besides that, we need to know more that we're Armenians.

USA Armenian Life: Meaning that we need to be guided by national awareness.

Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Aha! Yes! A leader is needed. A strong leader is needed. A Governor is needed. Oh! There is no government. Now, Armenia’s is something new at 16 years of age. Before that, we've been living under other countries’ rules. We should tell them that we would like to become a nation. Yes! Let's earn it!

Now look! The people of Turkey are intelligent. They go to Europe, send money to Turkey. They learn everything and they start working in Turkey. We also must acquire, earn and make Armenia stronger. There is a lone Armenia and there is a lone flag. There is nothing else.

On the other hand, the other objective is to strengthen Christianity, because, our Armenian people are chosen from among other people. We're the first nation that embraced Christ. We feel proud. But if you ask "who's Christ?" the Armenian child doe not know. The Armenian family does not know. It's painful for me. How could it be that in a free country, the churches are empty? How could it be that all he churches are empty? You cannot be an Armenian only on April 24 or during a holiday. Our Armenian people have been sacrificed for just being Armenian, for just being Christian. Yet, they have preserved Christianity. They have not said: "Yes, when give up Christ I will win." They haven't! Had they said it, they would have been cursed.

USA Armenian Life: Do you have faith that our people's just cause will be solved justly in the near future?

Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: If we trust in God, not ourselves, our minds. And if we take this issue before God with one heart, and if we are filled with spiritual genius, if we find a language for effective communication and speak from within the heart of foreign countries and I wish and pray that God would give us spiritual genius/wisdom then the case will be solved.


Note: Turkey's Denial of the Armenian Genocide and the State of Armenian Historic Sites in Turkey

As part of its denial campaign, the Turkish government to this day continues to try and erase evidence of the existence of Armenians from Turkish-occupied Western Armenia - the central and eastern Anatolian regions - (now called, central and eastern Turkey) through the destruction and intentional neglect of Armenia's historic sites which date back centuries. This includes over 2,500 sites within Turkey's control, including more than 200 monasteries and 1,600 churches.