Turks in Lebanon
|Regions with significant populations|
Lebanon became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1516, and Turks were brought into the region along with Sultan Selim I’s army during his campaign to Egypt and were settled in the conquered lands. Turkish colonisers were encouraged to stay in Lebanon by being rewarded with land and money. This has seen a remaining legacy, as large amounts of ethnic Lebanese, mainly within the Sunni community, have a recent Turkish ancestor.
The history of the Cretan Turks in Lebanon began when the Ottoman Empire lost its dominion over the island of Crete. After 1897, when the Ottomans lost control of the island, the Ottoman Empire sent ships to protect the island’s Cretan Turks. Most of these Turks were settled in Izmir and Mersin, but some of them were also sent to Tripoli and Damascus. After World War I, the Ottoman Empire lost Lebanon, however, some of the Cretan Turks remained in Tripoli where their relatives lived. Today, there is about 10,000 Cretan Turks remaining in Tripoli.
In the 1950s, thousands of Turks of Arabic origin left the city of Mardin and headed for Lebanon because of the economic crises and unemployment in Turkey. Many of these migrants settled in Beirut and could already speak Arabic; hence, they quickly adapted to life in Lebanon.
The Turkish community in Lebanon currently numbers about 80,000.
Areas of settlement
The descendants of the early Ottoman Turkish settlers mainly live in Akkar and Baalbeck, whilst the descendants of the later Ottoman Turkish arrivals, mainly the Cretan Turks, currently live in Tripoli. More recent Turkish arrivals to modern Lebanon from Turkey (Turkish citizens) and Syria (Syrian Turks) live in Beirut.
The Turkish community is becoming more politically active by seeking better representation locally and support from the Turkish embassy in Beirut.
Established in 1997, the "Future Youth Association", located in Beirut's Witwat neighborhood, is the most active Turkish association in Lebanon. Because of confusion over its name with the Future Movement, its office sustained damage during the 7 May 2008 armed clashes in Beirut between pro-Hariri and pro-Hezbollah forces. The Future Youth Association organises Turkish language classes in Beirut using teachers sent from Turkey’s Ministry of Education. The turnout for these classes have so far exceeded expectations, with many Lebanese of Turkish origin attending classes.
- Mostapha Al-turk
- Dina Al-Sabah
- Nabil A. Bayakly
- Bilal Aziz Özer
- Esma Chamly-Halwani
- Mouazzez Rawdah
- Ahmad Shukeiri
- Turkish minorities in the former Ottoman Empire
- History of Lebanon under Ottoman rule
- Lebanon–Turkey relations
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