Newsletter issue number 006 (July 2006)

Newsletter issue number 006 (July 2006)

Middle East Armenian Newsletter
Issue no. 6 01 July 2006

In this issue

A debate in a Dubai newspaper about the Ottomans and their role in the Middle East

Kuwaiti Armenian School recovers from the latest war in the region

Catholicos Karekin II ends a one week visit to Turkey

For the first time two Armenian members in the Cyprus Parliament

Mesrobian one day Armenian School of Qatar completes 2nd academic year

Show jumping Armenian sportsman Karen Hakobyan

Dr. Nora Arissian lectures on the “Armenians of Aleppo in the Syiran Press”

“Antranik” wins the Arab basketball championship in Dubai

“The role of the Armenian student in the struggle for the Armenian Cause”


A debate in a Dubai newspaper about the Ottomans and their role in the Middle East

In one of the latest issues of Dubai English language daily “7 Days” (30 May 2006) reader Rocky O?Rourke expressed the following view regarding the presence of Western powers in the Middle East during the last period of Ottoman rule:

“the British were 'meddling' in Iraqi affairs for almost 100 years because Iraq was occupied by a brutal Ottoman Empire who took sides with Germany during WWI. The people of Iraq and surrounding countries were oppressed under a vile Turkish regime – ring any bells? Hand-in-hand with the German war-mongers the Ottomans also threatened the whole Gulf region and beyond”.

This triggered a long debate in the online version of the newspaper (see comments at the given link).

Hassan A. Demir a Turk living in Dubai wrote (31 May 2006):

“Rocky O'Rourke tries to justify involvement of the British in the Middle East by blaming Ottomans. In fact exactly 100 years ago British troops entered Basra again with the same slogan: “We will save you” and it took half a century for them to leave. During 400 years of Ottoman Empire rule in the Middle East, all Muslims were united under one flag, they were leading power in this part of the world and Jerusalem was open for all religions”.

Read more …



?Other Subjects of Interest

?Additional Links

Dear Azad-Hye subscriber

Our aim is to introduce the activities of the Armenians in the Middle East, where some 400-500 thousand of our compatriots live.

Although our focus is the Middle East, but we have a wider perspective and try to cover some pan- Armenian subjects.

During the first half of 2006 we visited Kuwait and Syria and prepared extensive coverage of these communities (some of the articles, interviews and comments will appear in future editions). During the second half of 2006 we are planning to visit Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. Contribution and assistance from Armenians living in these communities would be highly appreciated. You can simply coordinate with us by writing to our e-mail address.

As we noted earlier, Armenians in the Middle East live in one geographical area, but they hardly communicate with each other. It is becoming customary for each community to act in isolation. For example the Armenians of Iraq are having difficult times, but what are the other Armenians in the neighboring countries doing? We are aware that it is difficult to assess the situation in Iraq and there are high security concerns, but we Armenians have faced many similar situation and we have always found ways to extend help and support.

We would like to stress that being Armenian is a mission that cannot be fulfilled without extending assistance and aid to fellow Armenians.


  • Kuwaiti Armenian School recovers from the latest war in the region


    After the formation of the United Arab Republic in Egypt and Syria (1958), many Armenians emigrated to the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina and elsewhere. Some of them arrived in Kuwait, then a desert Emirate, with limited modern comforts.

    In 1961 priest Barouyr Sarkissian settled down in Kuwait City and served the community for more than thirty years, including 9 years as a Principal of the Armenian School (1961-1970).

    The Kuwaiti Armenian community was originally formed by bachelors who were employed in light industries, auto repair shops, electronics, services etc. Eventually they got married and brought to Kuwait their brides from their countries of origin (Syria, Lebanon, Iran, etc.).

    As their children reached schooling age, the need for learning the Armenian language, history and religion led to the establishment of a school in the late 1960's.

    The new premises of the school was inaugurated in 1972, during the tenure of Principal Manuel Charshafian (1972-1978).

    Since then the number of the Armenians in Kuwait expanded and reached a peak of 10000 in the mid 1980's. The number of students enrolled in the Armenian School scored a record 700 pupils. High School section (Jemaran) was introduced, enabling graduates to get enrolled in University studies worldwide. Today the school covers the whole range from kindergarten to the 12th grade.

    Read the rest of the article and an interview with the present day Principal …

  • Catholicos Karekin II ends a one week visit to Turkey


    On 20 June 2006, Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians departed for Istanbul, Turkey for a 7 day Pontifical Visit. His Holiness was traveling to Turkey upon the joint invitation of Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople; and Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

    During this first visit to Turkey, the Catholicos of All Armenians visited Armenian churches and holy shrines, extended his blessings to the Armenian community of Istanbul, and met with Armenian intellectuals and young men and women.

    First day of the visit

    Upon arrival at the Istanbul airport in the evening of 20th June 2006, Karekin II was greeted by Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, two metropolitan archbishops representing the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate and representatives of the Armenian community of Istanbul (see in the link given below Turkish press reports on nationalist extremists protesting in the Airport and obliging the guests to take another way out of the airport, under tight security measures).

    During the official reception and dinner at the Armenian Patriarchate on the same evening, Patriarch Mutafian greeted the Catholicos of All Armenians and welcomed him and his accompanying clergymen to Istanbul. Karekin II thanked Almighty God for having granted him this opportunity to meet the faithful Armenian people of this historic city.

    Read the complete report on the 7 day visit to Istanbul, including Turkish press remarks and the press conference of Karekin II …

  • For the first time two Armenian members in the Cyprus Parliament



    By George Der Parthogh

    AZG Armenian Daily, Yerevan, 24 May 2006

    AKEL and Democratic Party Lead

    Nicosia businessman Vartkes Mahdessian is the new Armenian Representative in the Cyprus Parliament for the next four years. Mahdessian clinched 52.6 percent of the votes while his opponent Dr Vahakn N. Atamian secured 47.395 percent of the votes cast by the 3.000 strong Armenian community of Cyprus.

    Under the terms of the constitution of the Cyprus Republic, the Armenians, Maronites and Latins, officially termed as religious groupings, elect their own representatives who deal with only educational and religious matters, but are usually members of parliamentary sub-committees. They have no vote on other matters in parliament.

    The Cypriot Armenian community has three elementary schools – in Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol, which come under an overall committee appointed by the elected representative. These schools are entirely financed by the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture and children of Cypriot Armenians attend free of charge.

    Read about the complete results of the election and see photos of celebrations …

  • Mesrobian one day Armenian School of Qatar completes 2nd academic year


    The Mesrobian One Day Armenian School of Qatar completed its second academic year. On the occasion of the annual Easter visit of the Prelate Archbishop Gorun Babyan to Qatar, who was accompanied by the perish priest of UAE Father Aram Dekermendjian, a gathering was organized to complete the activities of the school under the patronage of Serpazan Hayr, and Der Hayr, with the presence of students, parents, teachers, administration, the chairman and representatives of Armenian national council of Qatar.

    In his welcoming speech, the school administrator of the current academic year Sarkis Kerkezian, thanked the parents and the teachers for their support and cooperation which helped the school to overcome all the difficulties and the challenges during the passed academic year. He emphasized the importance of the learning the Armenian language, religion and History that will evolve the Armenian spirit among the new generation.

    The students prayed collectively the Holy prayer, sang songs and recited poems learned during the past two academic years. Through their performance they were able to give a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction to their parents and the audience.

    Archbishop Gorun Babyan was invited to deliver his message to the students and the parents. He emphasized the importance of the continuity and persistence to overcome all the challenges of the school. He gave several examples from the Armenian communities of neighboring gulf countries and how they started with the same humble beginnings and now have grown into a full fledge organized schools. He said that some of the students who had graduated from the One day Armenian schools have pursued careers and doctorate degrees in Armenian Literature and History. Serpazan Hayr stressed on the importance of commitment and dedication to the objectives of the school which will enhance the presence of the Armenian character in this rapidly developing community. He thanked the Lebanese Ambassador and the director of the Lebanese school for providing the school facilities.

    See the rest of the article and a series of photos of the Qatari Armenian school …

  • Show jumping Armenian sportsman Karen Hakobyan


    Karen Hakobyan has been living in the United Arab Emirates most of his life. He graduated from the Emirates International School, Jumeirah (2002) and is following now his career as equestrian sportsman, specifically show jumping rider.

    The equestrian sport is unique in its beauty and grace. The combination of rider and horse provides emotion and excitement that no other sport offers. The Olympic sport of Grand Prix Show Jumping is best described as a cross between the excitement of horse-racing and the sheer daring of the downhill slalom. The rules of the game are simple: jump an obstacle course of fences set on a twisting, turning course without dropping a rail or falling off. The horse with the fastest time and the fewest jumping faults is declared the winner.

    The sport emphasizes profound values such as dedication, courage, confidence and commitment, especially in terms of the relationship between the human and the animal (rider and horse). This remarkable sport has gathered rapid momentum over the past decade and has become an immensely popular and highly visible spectator sport.

    Karen Hakobyan, born in Yerevan 1984, started to compete in year 1994, when he got his first own horse. He was one of the top ranked young riders in the UAE in year 1996 and during the last 10 years he has competed in several shows in the UAE and Europe (United Kingdom, Latvia, Czech Republic, Nederlands, etc.). He was one of the first sportsmen to to lift Armenia?s flag in worldwide sports events.

    Read about the achievements of Karen Hakobyan and the news about the newborn progeny …

  • Dr. Nora Arissian lectures on the “Armenians of Aleppo in the Syiran Press”


    The Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) has chosen Aleppo as the capital for Islamic culture for the year 2006 (Damascus is going to be the Islamic culture capital in 2008).

    Activities in this respect include holding various expositions and cultural seminars in addition to screening of historical and documentary films on the historical and architectural aspects of Aleppo.

    As an integral part of the Syrian population, the Armenians in Aleppo also are involved in this year- long celebration. One of the recent events was a lecture delivered by Dr. Nora Arissian, the well-known scholar of oriental research, on 20th May 2006 in ?Aram Manougian? center, organized by the Armenian Youth Union in Aleppo.

    Dr. Arissian dealt with the subject of “The Armenians in the Syrian press”. A number of University lecturers, several press representatives (local ?Al Jamahir? daily and correspondents of pan- Arab newspapers, public figures and a large number of people attended the event.

    The scholar highlighted the participation of the Armenians in the Syrian public life and society in general, a fact that has been obvious in almost all economic and social fields. She referred to the tolerance of the Arab majority towards the Armenians, a tradition that stems from the teachings of the Holy Quran.

    Read synopsis of the lecture and review of the main Syrian newspapers. See also Armenian text …

  • “Antranik” wins the Arab basketball championship in Dubai


    ?Gulf News? journalist Alaric Gomes covered the 13th Women?s Arab Clubs Basketball Championship from its first day until the announcement of the winning team ?Antranik? (Armenian Youth Association, AGBU, Beirut) on 1st June 2006.

    Antranik displayed strong performance throughout the championship and scored successive wins, securing the leadership of the Arab women basketball.

    In the opening match on 24th May 2006, another Lebanese Armenian team Homenetmen Antelias won 70-55 against Jordanian Orthodox Club. Homenetmen failed to score any other win in championship and lost the matches against Algeria?s Olympic and Egypt?s Sporting (see all results below).

    Alaric Gomes describes the final match (?Gulf News?, 2 June 2006):

  • “The role of the Armenian student in the struggle for the Armenian Cause”


    A conference organized by the A.R.F. Zavarian Student Association

    On the 14th of May 2006, the A.R.F. (Tashnak) party?s Zavarian Student Association, based in Lebanon, organized a conference on “The role of the Armenian student in the struggle for the Armenian Cause”, where representatives of Armenian schools? secondary classes, Armenian student associations and clubs in Lebanese universities and, Armenian youth and student organizations participated in the event. His Excellency Mr. Vahan Ter Ghevondian, Ambassador of Armenia in Lebanon, and father Mesrob Kerkezian, representing the prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Chair in Lebanon, Bishop Kegham Khatcherian, were invited as guests of honor.

    Prior to the opening, the memory of 1.5 million innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide was honored with a moment of silence. Then, after the opening statement by Miss Salpy Kurkjian, the Ambassador and father Kerkezian pronounced their message, after which a slide show was aired, presenting the different stages the Armenian Cause has crossed throughout the history. Afterward, the conference proceeded in two agendas.

    Read the rest of the article and see the photos of the participant lecturers…



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