"Lebanese Armenians have served as a post-Genocide litmus test", an interview with Gibrahayer e-magazine Editor

Interview with Mr. Simon Aynejian, Chief Editor of the Gibrahayer e-magazine.

.Can you tell our readers when, how and why you started the Gibrahayer Magazine?

Gibrahayer e-magazine began its online publications in the autumn of 1999, when members of the Armenian community of Cyprus had initiated a campaign to assist in the construction of worn-torn villages in Artsakh. Our first "publication" was for a fund-raising campaign for the village of Titsmayri.

.How many readers does Gibrahayer Magazine have?
Next week's Gibrahayer's issue will go out to over 22,000 subscribers, representing a cross-section of diaspora communities as well as Armenia and Artsakh. Although Cyprus is a small community, we are strategically situated in a volatile region in the eastern Mediterranean, surrounded by areas of conflict as well as corresponding efforts for peace.
Our island that recently joined the European Union, is such a region, facing the military and political reality of a regional superpower - Turkey - and at the same time, experiencing and living the daily political conflict-solving efforts both at home and in the international political arena. These issues are also of interest to Armenians outside Cyprus and "dictate the need" to include "local" and regional news in our publications.

.Can you name the countries that subscribe to Gibrahayer magazine?
Our publication goes out to every single Armenian community globally without exception. As magazine recipients can subscribe to our e-magazine without our knowledge, and many of our subscribers forward our magazine to e-mail groups of their own, we really cannot know who else receives our publications, but judging from our correspondence, it has become evident that we also have a sizeable number of non-Armenians receiving our e-magazine such as Greeks, Turks, Americans, Russians, Lebanese, Cypriots (both Turkish and Greek). The magazine also goes out to all of the Greek Cypriot and Armenian press both in the Diaspora and in the homeland.

.Do you publish the magazine alone, or do you have a team?
The e-magazine began as a solo project but like all good things in life, it has evolved into a team effort.
One of the young members of our community - Sevag Devletian - formerly of Reuters Cyprus, has joined our team and is in charge of the News and Sports section.
Professor Hovhannes Pilikian (http://pilikian.blogspot.com) - an internationally acclaimed film producer, theater director, a classical music composer, a classical scholar and social scientist has a permanent column.
A team of twelve "Apostles" across the world provide articles, interviews and images to enhance the quality of our publication.
Our cartoonist Tatiana Ferahian from Limassol, has gained great popularity by her witty and bold approaches. An artist herself - who has represented Cyprus in the international cultural arena - Tatiana Ferahian has brought in a breath of fresh air, with her unique way of grasping the moment with her brush.
Technical support has been provided by Dr. Nazaret Armenagian from Limassol (www.hayem.org), who is also the programmer of the editor/mailer/dispatcher, on behalf of GAP Vassilopoulos E-Media Ltd. - www.gap-emedia.com

.How does the magazine cover its cost?
The magazine does not cover its costs. Far from that. It is permanently in the red. It occasionally receives contributions from enthusiastic subscribers which unfortunately take care of very little.

.You've been accused that you are affiliated with the ARF Dashnaktsoutiun and that the Magazine covers the ARF news more than the rest of the Armenian groups. What can you say about these accusations?
They probably are true. I believe that ARF Dashnaktsoutiun and its affiliate organisations are the strongest driving force behind our political, educational, cultural aspirations and if our e-magazine covers ARF news more than the rest, it is because the activities of Dashnak-affiliated organisations globally and no doubt locally are perhaps more in number, more substantial and also more versatile.
However, our e-magazine is not driven by WHO sends the news. It is driven by WHAT we consider news. We have been successful because we quickly and accurately deliver the news of the day to our subscribers, on the one hand covering issues that we consider newsworthy, and on the other, highlighting issues that we would like them to be important in the life of our readers.
Part of our success is that our publication is in English and is accessible to most readers across the world.

.We have noticed that through this e-magazine, you have assisted young athletes of Armenia...
We were able to put to good use the network of good people of this magazine who volunteered to assist a rising star, Zaruhi Haroutyunyan from Armenia, be that when she went to Bolis to win her first major back-to-back ITF tournaments, when she stayed in England to attend Alan Jone's Academy and later when more than 30,000 dollars was raised to enroll her in one of the most prestigious Tennis Academies in California at Weil.
Zaruhi Haroutyunyan climbed from 1,216 to top 100 in less than a year - defeating top ten players along the way - and at 17 she has received more than five full scholarships from top colleges in the U.S. to study, play college tennis and to continue her professional career.
I would like to thank former Melkoniantsis, Armine Sayan from Bolis and Asbed Pogharian from Los Angeles, as well as the Bedrossian brothers in London and LA, Dick and Haig, through whom we were able to launch a global campaign to raise money for Zaruhi. Special mention and thanks to the Los Angeles contributors.

.What would you like to say to the Armenian community in Lebanon?
Lebanese Armenians have served as a post-Genocide litmus test on the endurance of the Armenian diasporan spirit, during which our nation has re-tested its DNA in suffering, perseverance and recovery and has come out as champions.

.What future plans do you have for the magazine?
Parallel to the e-magazine, we are launching the Gibrahayer website at the end of 2007 and we plan to reach 30,000 subscribers by 2008.

Interview conducted by R. Chilingirian

Update (8 Feb.) - Besides the Gibrahayer e-magazine, it has launched it's website, Gibrahayer.com