Thursday, May 09, 2019

Raymond Ibrahim, American Thinker: The First and Forgotten Armenian Genocide of 1019 AD

https://www.raymondibrahim.com/2019/05/06/the-first-and-forgotten-armenian-genocide-of-1019-ad/

The First and Forgotten Armenian Genocide of 1019 AD




Last April 24 was Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.  Millions of Armenians around the world remembered how the Islamic Ottoman Empire killed—often cruelly and out of religious hatred—some 1.5 million of their ancestors during World War I. 
Ironically, most people, including most Armenians, are unaware that the first genocide of Christian Armenians at the hands of Muslim Turks did not occur in the twentieth century; rather it began in 1019—exactly one-thousand years ago this year—when Turks first began to pour into and transform a then much larger Armenia into what it is today, the eastern portion of modern day Turkey.
Thus, in 1019, “the first appearance of the bloodthirsty beasts … the savage nation of infidels called Turks entered Armenia … and mercilessly slaughtered the Christian faithful with the sword,” writes Matthew of Edessa (d.1144), a chief source for this period.  Three decades later the raids were virtually nonstop. In 1049, the founder of the Turkic Seljuk Empire himself, Sultan Tughril Bey (r. 1037–1063), reached the unwalled city of Arzden, west of Lake Van, and “put the whole town to the sword, causing severe slaughter, as many as one hundred and fifty thousand persons.”
After thoroughly plundering the city—which reportedly contained eight hundred churches—he ordered it set ablaze and turned into a desert. Arzden was “filled with bodies” and none “could count the number of those who perished in the flames.” The invaders “burned priests whom they seized in the churches and massacred those whom they found outside. They put great chunks of pork in the hands of the undead to insult us”—Muslims deem the pig unclean—“and made them objects of mockery to all who saw them.”
Eight hundred oxen and forty camels were required to cart out the vast plunder, mostly taken from Arzden’s churches. “How to relate here, with a voice stifled by tears, the death of nobles and clergy whose bodies, left without graves, became the prey of carrion beasts, the exodus of women … led with their children into Persian slavery and condemned to an eternal servitude! That was the beginning of the misfortunes of Armenia,” laments Matthew, “So, lend an ear to this melancholy recital.”
Other contemporaries confirm the devastation visited upon Arzden. “Like famished dogs,” writes Aristakes (d.1080) an eye witness, “bands of infidels hurled themselves on our city, surrounded it and pushed inside, massacring the men and mowing everything down like reapers in the fields, making the city a desert. Without mercy, they incinerated those who had hidden themselves in houses and churches.”
Similarly, during the Turkic siege of Sebastia (modern-day Sivas) in 1060, six hundred churches were destroyed and “many [more] maidens, brides, and distinguished ladies were led into captivity to Persia.” Another raid on Armenian territory saw “many and innumerable people who were burned [to death].” The atrocities are too many for Matthew to recount, and he frequently ends in resignation:
Who is able to relate the happenings and ruinous events which befell the Armenians, for everything was covered with blood. . . . Because of the great number of corpses, the land stank, and all of Persia was filled with innumerable captives; thus this whole nation of beasts became drunk with blood. All human beings of Christian faith were in tears and in sorrowful affliction, because God our creator had turned away His benevolent face from us.
Nor was there much doubt concerning what fueled the Turks’ animus: “This nation of infidels comes against us because of our Christian faith and they are intent on destroying the ordinances of the worshippers of the cross and on exterminating the Christian faithful,” one David, head of an Armenian region, explained to his countrymen. Therefore, “it is fitting and right for all the faithful to go forth with their swords and to die for the Christian faith.” Many were of the same mind; records tell of monks and priests, fathers, wives, and children, all shabbily armed but zealous to protect their way of life, coming out to face the invaders—to little avail.
Anecdotes of faith-driven courage also permeate the chronicles. During the first Turkic siege of Manzikert in 1054, when a massive catapult pummeled and caused its walls to quake, a Catholic Frank holed up in with the Orthodox Armenians volunteered to sacrifice himself: “I will go forth and burn down that catapult, and today my blood shall be shed for all the Christians, for I have neither wife nor children to weep over me.” The Frank succeeded and returned to gratitude and honors. Adding insult to injury, the defenders catapulted a pig into the Muslim camp while shouting, “O sultan [Tughril], take that pig for your wife, and we will give you Manzikert as a dowry!” “Filled with anger, Tughril had all Christian prisoners in his camp ritually decapitated.”
Between 1064 and 1065, Tughril’s successor, Sultan Muhammad bin Dawud Chaghri—known to posterity as Alp Arslan, a Turkish honorific meaning “Heroic Lion”—“going forth full of rage and with a formidable army,” laid siege to Ani, the fortified capital of Armenia, then a great and populous city. The thunderous bombardment of Muhammad’s siege engines caused the entire city to quake, and Matthew describes countless terror-stricken families huddled together and weeping.
Once inside, the Islamic Turks—reportedly armed with two knives in each hand and an extra in their mouths—“began to mercilessly slaughter the inhabitants of the entire city . . . and piling up their bodies one on top of the other. . . . Beautiful and respectable ladies of high birth were led into captivity into Persia. Innumerable and countless boys with bright faces and pretty girls were carried off together with their mothers.”
The most savage treatment was always reserved for those visibly proclaiming their Christianity: clergy and monks “were burned to death, while others were flayed alive from head to toe.” Every monastery and church—before this, Ani was known as “the City of 1001 Churches”—was pillaged, desecrated, and set aflame.  A zealous jihadi climbed atop the city’s main cathedral “and pulled down the very heavy cross which was on the dome, throwing it to the ground,” before entering and defiling the church. Made of pure silver and the “size of a man”—and now symbolic of Islam’s might over Christianity—the broken crucifix was sent as a trophy to adorn a mosque in modern-day Azerbaijan.
Not only do several Christian sources document the sack of Armenia’s capital—one contemporary succinctly notes that Muhammad “rendered Ani a desert by massacres and fire”—but so do Muslim sources, often in apocalyptic terms: “I wanted to enter the city and see it with my own eyes,” one Arab explained. “I tried to find a street without having to walk over the corpses. But that was impossible.”
Such is an idea of what Muslim Turks did to Christian Armenians—not during the Armenian Genocide of a century ago but exactly one thousand years ago, starting in 1019, when the Turkic invasion and subsequent colonization of Armenia began.
Even so, and as an example of surreal denial, Turkey’s foreign minister, capturing popular Turkish sentiment, recently announced that “We [Turks] are proud of our history because our history has never had any genocides. And no colonialism exists in our history.”
Note: The first and other Turkic invasions of Armenia are documented in Raymond Ibrahim’s recent book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West.  American Thinker reviews of the book can be read here and here.

About





RAYMOND IBRAHIM is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam specialist.  His books include Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West (Da Capo, 2018), Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, 2013), and The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday, 2007).
Ibrahim’s writings, translations, and observations have appeared in a variety of publications, including the New York Times Syndicate, CNN, LA Times, Fox News, Financial Times, Jerusalem Post, United Press International, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, and Weekly Standard; scholarly journals, including the Almanac of Islamism, Chronicle of Higher Education, Hoover Institution’s Strategika, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, and Middle East Review of International Affairs; and popular websites, including American Thinker, Bloomberg, Breitbart, Christian Post, Daily Caller, NewsMax, National Review Online, PJ Media, and World Magazine. He has contributed chapters to several anthologies and has been translated into dozens of languages.
Among other media, he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, and NPR; he has done hundreds of radio interviews and some of his YouTube videos (here and here for example) have received over a million views each.
Ibrahim guest lectures at universities, including the National Defense Intelligence College, has briefed governmental agencies, such as U.S. Strategic Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and has testified before Congress regarding the conceptual failures that dominate American discourse concerning Islam and the worsening plight of Egypt’s Christian Copts.
Ibrahim’s dual-background—born and raised in the U.S. by Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East—has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former. His interest in Islamic civilization was first piqued when he began visiting the Middle East as a child in the 1970s. Interacting and conversing with the locals throughout the decades has provided him with an intimate appreciation for that part of the world, complementing his academic training.
After a brief athletic career—including winning the 1993 NPC Los Angeles Bodybuilding Championship as a teenager—Raymond went on to receive his B.A. and M.A. (both in History, focusing on the ancient and medieval Near East, with dual-minors in Philosophy and Literature) from California State University, Fresno. There he studied closely with noted military-historian Victor Davis Hanson. He also took graduate courses at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies—including classes on the history, politics, and economics of the Arab world—and studied Medieval Islam and Semitic languages at Catholic University of America. His M.A. thesis examined an early military encounter between Islam and Byzantium based on arcane Arabic and Greek texts.
Ibrahim’s resume includes serving as an Arabic language and regional specialist at the Near East Section of the Library of Congress, where he was often contacted by and provided information to defense and intelligence personnel involved in the fields of counterterrorism and area studies, as well as the Congressional Research Service; and serving as associate director of the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia think tank.
He also often functions as a journalist and has been a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a CBN News analyst.  His knowledge of Arabic and familiarity with Middle Eastern sources have enabled him to offer breaking news.  Days before the Obama administration blamed an anti-Islamic movie for Muslim uprisings against a U.S. consul and an embassy in Libya and Egypt respectively, Ibrahim showed that the demonstrations were pre-planned and unrelated to the movie.  Similarly, he was first to expose an Arabic-language Saudi fatwa that called for the destruction of any Christian church found on the Arabian Peninsula.
Raymond Ibrahim is currently the Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum.