by CHRISTIAN PETERSEN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on OCTOBER 29, 2015:

Vicken Cheterian
Vicken Cheterian

UnknownThe assassination of the Armenian-Turkish activist Hrant Dink in 2007 raised uncomfortable questions about a historical tragedy that the leaders of the Turkish Republic would like people to forget: the Armenian genocide. In his new book Open Wounds: Armenians, Turks, and a Century of Genocide (Oxford UP, 2015), the journalist/historian Vicken Cheterian offers a scholarly, yet high readable account of this injustice and the century-long silence surrounding it. With engaging prose, he explains how and why this genocide took place, including a description of the violence that Kurds carried out against Armenians in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He also helps readers better grasp the continuities in how Sultan Abudhamid II, the Young Turks, and Mustafa Kamal’s Turkish Republic employed violence to deal with their “Armenian problem” and other “internal enemies” such as Greeks, Assyrians, and the Yezidis.

Not one to mince words, Cheterian offers a fascinating description of the Turkish efforts to delegitimize Armenian identities and silence international discussion of the genocide. He also reveals the complexities of how Armenians across the globe, including those of Armenian descent in Turkey, have struggled to raise international awareness about the genocide and make contemporary Turkish leaders confront the past. Just as important, he gives readers a “human feel” for the suffering of the Armenians by delving into the complexities of historical memory and the issue of “forced conversions.” He also takes readers on a guided tour of the Middle East that makes reference to architecture and landmarks to illustrate just how far the Turks have gone to erase historical memories of Armenians. Continue reading

by Sümeyye Kocaman for ISLAMiCommentary on JANUARY 7, 2015:

Sümeyye Kocaman
Sümeyye Kocaman

As we hear more and more about the Caliphate, the ummah, Islamic law and the Islamic State, I am surprised by many things: the so-called experts’ lack of information; how the facts are being politically manipulated; how people of faith are letting religion be used in this minefield; and worse, how people of faith believe that religion can be used to legitimize inhumane, political arguments.

When we hear religion as a political argument — e.g. how an ‘Islamic state’ is needed to provide freedom for Muslims who have been victimized for centuries — we must see this as merely a new wave of nationalism backed up by the power of religious discourse. Religious discourse has the highest potential to mobilize crowds. If the discourse is powerful enough some local groups or even the society at large can be mobilized into an emotional mob that cares little for reason. Their voices — pure political ideology.

In the modern world religion and politics continue to be dangerously intertwined. We can regard this crisis of religion as a chance to reverse a vicious cycle. Continue reading