The perennial question with no answer is being asked again: what is a real Armenian? Is it one who speaks Armenian, is Armenian Orthodox by religion, or just what? Can Moslem Armenians be true Armenians?
At a news conference yesterday, so-called experts discussed the subject of Armenians in Turkey, talking about how some have converted back to being Armenian Orthodox, after years of living as Moslems, while others have supposedly said, “better to not be Armenian than to have to be Christian.”
Meeting with a “hetanos” (pre-Christian, pagan) Armenian, and telling him about the news conference, he said, “Who are they, and who is anybody, to say what a real Armenian is. Of course the Armenian Church has done a lot over the years, and is an institution we all should respect. But to say a real Armenian has to be Orthodox is wrong. I am “hetanos.” I go to Garni every year, at least three or four times, to different ceremonies dating back to when, I can say, Armenians had their own relgion, their own gods, not an imported god. I think I am a real Armenian. Not only that, I fought during the war with the Turks, and will go again, so no one can say I’m not patriotic.
“And there are the Armenians who were forced to convert in 1915. True, they didn’t have to convert, but I don’t blame them. Many secretly stayed Christian, but to save their families from being slaughtered, they converted to Islam, even if for show. And many of their children and grandchildren stayed Armenian, in their hearts, moreso than a lot of Diaspora Armenians I’ve met who trumpet their Armenianism, but are just talk, and do nothing to help their homeland.
“To say Moslem Armenians, or pagan Armenians, like myself, aren’t real Armenians, is a joke. Why aren’t people saying that the many thousands of sect members in Armenia, and in the Diaspora, aren’t real Armenians? They’re far more a danger to the future of Armenia than my pagan friends are, or the Moslem Armenians of Turkey.”