Anti-Armenian sentiment, also known as Anti-Armenianism and Armenophobia, is a diverse spectrum of negative feelings, dislikes, fears, aversion, derision and/or prejudice towards Armenians, Armenia and the Armenian culture. Modern anti-Armenianism is usually expressed by opposition to the actions or existence of Armenia, aggressive denial of the Armenian Genocide or belief in an Armenian conspiracy to fabricate history and manipulate public and political opinion for political gain.
Armenian Genocide and its denial
Although it was possible for Armenians to achieve status and wealth in the Ottoman Empire, as a community they were never accorded more than "second-class citizen" status and were regarded as fundamentally alien to the Muslim character of Ottoman society. In 1895, revolts among the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire lead to Sultan Abdül Hamid's decision to massacre tens of thousands of Armenians in the Hamidian massacres.
During World War I, the Ottoman government massacred between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians in the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish government has aggressively denied the Armenian Genocide. This position has been criticized in a letter from the International Association of Genocide Scholars to the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Cenk Saraçoğlu argues that anti-Armenian attitudes in Turkey "are no longer constructed and shaped by social interactions between the 'ordinary people' [...] Rather, the Turkish media and state promote and disseminate an overtly anti-Armenian discourse." According to a 2011 survey in Turkey, 73.9% of respondents admitted having unfavorable views toward Armenians. The survey showed an unfavorable stance toward Armenians was "relatively more widespread among those participants with lower levels of education and socioeconomic status." According to Minority Rights Group, while the government recognizes Armenians as a minority group, as used in Turkey this term denotes second-class status.
The Ankara Chamber of Commerce included a documentary, accusing the Armenian people of slaughtering Turks, with its paid tourism advertisements in the June 6, 2005 edition of the magazine Time Europe. The magazine later apologized for allowing the inclusion of the DVDs and published a critical letter signed by five French organizations. The February 12, 2007 edition of Time Europe included an acknowledgment of the truth of the Armenian Genocide and a DVD of a documentary by French director Laurence Jourdan about the genocide. Hrant Dink, the editor of the weekly bilingual newspaper Agos, was assassinated in Istanbul on January 19, 2007, by Ogün Samast. He was reportedly acting on the orders of Yasin Hayal, a militant Turkish ultra-nationalist. For his statements on Armenian identity and the Armenian Genocide, Dink had been prosecuted three times under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for “insulting Turkishness.” (The law was later amended by the Turkish parliament, changing "Turkishness" to "Turkish Nation" and making it more difficult to prosecute individuals for the said offense.) Dink had also received numerous death threats from Turkish nationalists who viewed his "iconoclastic" journalism (particularly regarding the Armenian Genocide) as an act of treachery.
İbrahim Şahin and 36 other alleged members of Turkish ultra-nationalist Ergenekon group were arrested in January, 2009 in Ankara. The Turkish police said the round-up was triggered by orders Şahin gave to assassinate 12 Armenian community leaders in Sivas. According to the official investigation in Turkey, Ergenekon also had a role in the murder of Hrant Dink.
In 2002, a monument was erected in memory of Turkish-Armenian composer Onno Tunç in Yalova, Turkey. The monument to the composer of Armenian origin was subjected to much vandalism over the course of the years, in which unidentified people had taken out the letters on the monument. In 2012 Yalova Municipal Assembly decided to remove the monument. Bilgin Koçal, the former mayor of Yalova, informed the public that the memorial had been destroyed by time and that it would shortly be replaced with a new one in the memory of Tunç. On the other hand, a similar memorial stays in place at the village of Selimiye, where an aircraft had crashed; and the people in the village of 187 expressed their protest about the vandalism claims regarding the memorial in Yalova, adding that they paid from their own funds to keep up the maintenance of the monument in their village against the wearing effect of natural causes.
Sevag Balikci, a Turkish soldier of Armenian descent, was shot dead on April 24, 2011, the day of the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide during his military service in Batman. It was later discovered that killer Kıvanç Ağaoğlu was an ultra-nationalist. Through his Facebook profile, it was uncovered that he was a sympathizer of nationalist politician Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu and Turkish agent / contract killer Abdullah Çatlı, who himself had a history of anti-Armenian activity, such as the Armenian Genocide Memorial bombing in a Paris suburb in 1984. His Facebook profile also showed that he was a Great Union Party (BBP) sympathizer, a far-right nationalist party in Turkey. Testimony given by Sevag Balıkçı's fiancée stated that he was subjected to psychological pressure at the military compound. She was told by Sevag over the phone that he feared for his life because a certain military serviceman threatened him by saying, "If war were to happen with Armenia, you would be the first person I would kill."
On February 26, 2012, on the anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre a demonstration took place in Istanbul which contained hate speech and threats towards Armenia and Armenians. Chants and slogans during the demonstration include: "You are all Armenian, you are all bastards," "bastards of Hrant [Dink] can not scare us," and "Taksim Square today, Yerevan Tomorrow: We will descend upon you suddenly in the night."
In 2012 the ultra-nationalist ASIM-DER group (founded in 2002) had targeted Armenian schools, churches, foundations and individuals in Turkey as part of an anti-Armenian hate campaign.
On 23 February 2014, a group of protestors carrying a banner that said, "Long live the Ogun Samasts! Down with Hrant Dink!" went in front of an Armenian school in Istanbul and later walked in front of the main building of the Agos newspaper, the same location where Hrant Dink was assassinated in 2007.
On 5 August 2014, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a televised interview on NTV news network, remarked that being Armenian is "uglier" even than being Georgian, saying "You wouldn't believe the things they have said about me. They have said I am Georgian...they have said even uglier things - they have called me Armenian, but I am Turkish."
In February 2015, graffiti was discovered near the wall of an Armenian church in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul saying, "You’re Either Turkish or Bastards" and "You Are All Armenian, All Bastards." It is claimed that the graffiti was done by organizing members of a rally entitled "Demonstrations Condemning the Khojali Genocide and Armenian Terror." The Human Rights Association of Turkey petitioned the local government of Istanbul calling it a "Pretext to Incite Ethnic Hate Against Armenians in Turkey". In the same month banners celebrating the Armenian Genocide were spotted in several cities throughout Turkey. They declared: "We celebrate the 100th anniversary of our country being cleansed of Armenians. We are proud of our glorious ancestors."
On 20 February 2015, the Mayor of Bayburt Mete Memis called the deeds of Turkish soldiers who massacred Armenians a hundred years ago "heroism." He made a congratulatory statement on the 97th anniversary of Bayburt’s sacking, in which it's Armenian resident were massacred and exiled as part of the Armenian Genocide, claiming that 97 years ago, the Turkish soldiers in Bayburt had "written their name in history for defending the homeland."
In March 2015, the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek, filed a formal complaint on defamation charges against journalist Hayko Bağdat because he called him an Armenian. The complaint petitioned that the statements by the journalist are "false and include insult and libel." Gökçek also demanded 10,000 liras in compensation under a civil lawsuit against Bağdat for psychological damages, and the lawsuit is now pending.
During the official state funeral of Turkish serviceman Olgun Karakoyunlu, a man exclaimed: "The PKK are all Armenians, but are hiding. I am Kurdish and a Muslim, but I am not an Armenian. The end of Armenians is near. God willingly, we will bring an end to them. Oh Armenians, whatever you do it is in vain, we know you well. Whatever you do will be in vain." Similarly, in 2007, a state-appointed imam, presiding over a funeral of a Turkish soldier killed by the PKK, said that the death was due to "Armenian bastards."
In September 2015, during the Turkey–PKK conflict, a video was released which captured police in Cizre announcing on a loudspeaker to the local Kurdish population that they were "Armenian bastards." A few days later, in another instance, the Cizre police made repeated announcements on loudspeaker saying "You are all Armenians."
On 9 September 2015, a crowd of Turkish youth rallying in Armenian populated districts of Istanbul chanted "We must turn these districts into Armenian and Kurdish cemeteries."
In September 2015, a 'Welcome' sign was installed in Iğdır and written in four languages, Turkish, Kurdish, English, and Armenian. The Armenian portion of the sign was protested by ASIMDER who demanded its removal. In October 2015, the Armenian writing on the 'Welcome' sign was heavily vandalized.
Throughout the 20th century, Armenians and Muslim inhabitants of the Caucasus (Azerbaijanis were called Caucasian or Azerbaijani Tatars before 1918) had been involved in numerous conflicts, including pogroms, massacres and wars. The two ethnic groups intensified "mutual distrust" and the clashes throughout the 20th century "have been significant factors in the shaping of the national self-consciousness of the two peoples." From 1918 to 1920 organized killings of Armenians occurred in Azerbaijan, including in the cities of Baku and Shusha, the centers of Armenian cultural life under the Russian Empire.
However, the current xenophobia in Azerbaijan toward Armenia and Armenians have shaped mostly during the last years of the Soviet Union, when Armenians demanded the Moscow authorities to incorporate the mostly Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast with the Armenian SSR. In response to Armenian claims, the Azerbaijani nationalists, most prominently the Azerbaijani Popular Front, organized pogroms of Armenians in Sumgait, Kirovabad and Baku. An estimated of 350,000 Armenians left "in two waves in 1988 and in 1990 after anti-Armenian violence."
The tensions eventually escalated into a large-scale military conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian forces took control of most of former NKAO and seven adjacent districts outside of NKAO area. A cease-fire was reached in 1994 and is still in effect as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is de facto independent, while de jure inside the Azerbaijani borders.
Since then the Armenian side accuses the Azerbaijani government for carrying out anti-Armenian policy inside and outside the country, which includes propaganda of hate toward Armenia and Armenians and destruction of cultural heritage. In 2011, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance report on Azerbaijan stated that "the constant negative official and media discourse concerning the Republic of Armenia helps to sustain a negative climate of opinion regarding people of Armenian origin, who remain vulnerable to discrimination."
A 19th-century Russian explorer, Vasili Lvovich Velichko, who was active during the period when the Russian tzarism carried out a purposeful anti-Armenian policy, wrote "Armenians are the extreme instance of brachycephaly; their actual racial instinct make them naturally hostile to the State."
According to a 2012 VTSIOM opinion research, 6% of respondents in Moscow and 3% in Saint Petersburg were "experiencing feelings of irritation, hostility" toward Armenians. In the 2000s there have been racist murders of Armenians in Russia.
In 1989 Zviad Gamsakhurdia, President of Georgia in 1991–2, proclaimed: "Today, we are facing a serious problem. Tatars, Armenians and Ossetians have risen to their feet. We must save from foreigners Kakhetia – our holy land!"
In 2007, the Georgian media ran several stories on the March 5 parliamentary elections in the breakaway region of Abkhazia, claiming that ethnic Armenians in the area, who make up roughly 20% of the local population, would be controlling the elections. The Georgian newspaper Sakartvelos Respublika predicted that much of the parliament would be Armenian and that there was even a chance of an Armenian president being elected. The paper also reported that the Abkazanian republic might already be receiving financial assistance from Armenians living in the United States. Some Armenian groups believe such reports are attempting to create conflict between Armenians and ethnic Abkhazians to destabilize the region.
The successive Georgian governments has actively pursued a policy of desecration of Armenian churches and historical monuments on the territory of Georgia. On November 16, 2008, Georgian monk Tariel Sikinchelashvili instructed workers to raze to the ground the graves of patrons of art Mikhail and Lidia Tamamshev. The Armenian Church of Norashen in Tbilisi, built in the middle of the 15th century, has been desecrated and misappropriated by the Georgian government despite the fact that both Armenia's and Georgia's Prime-Ministers have reached an agreement on not to maltreat the church. Due to no law on religion, the status of Surb Norashen, Surb Nshan, Shamhoretsor Surb Astvatsatsin (Karmir Avetaran), Yerevanots Surb Minas and Mugni Surb Gevorg in Tbilisi and Surb Nshan in Akhaltsikhe is unknown since being confiscated during the Soviet era. Since independence in 1991, Georgian clergy have occupied the Armenian churches. Armenians in Georgia and Armenia have demonstrated against the destruction. On November 28, 2008, Armenian demonstrators in front of the Georgian embassy in Armenia demanded that the Georgian government immediately cease encroachments on the Armenian churches and punish those guilty, calling the Georgian party's actions "white genocide."
In August, 2011, Georgia's Culture Minister Nika Rurua sacked director Robert Sturua as head of the Tbilisi national theatre for "xenophobic" comments he made earlier this year, officials reported. "We are not going to finance xenophobia. Georgia is a multicultural country," Rurua said. Provoking public outrage, Sturua said in an interview with local news agency that "Saakashvili doesn't know what Georgian people need because he is Armenian." "I do not want Georgia to be governed by a representative of a different ethnicity," he added.
While prejudice against ethnic Armenians in the United States is not widespread today, some notable cases do exist.
Samuel Weems published the book Armenia: The Secrets of a "Christian" Terrorist State in May 2002. Weems has made such claims as the "number one export of Armenia is terrorism" and that there was no Armenian Genocide. Samuel Weems was disbarred as an attorney and charged with arson and insurance fraud.
American historian Justin McCarthy is known for his controversial view that no genocide was intended by the Ottoman Empire but that both Armenians and Turks died as the result of civil war. Some attribute his denial of the Armenian Genocide to anti-Armenianism, as he holds an honorary doctorate of the Turkish Boğaziçi University and he is also a board member of the Institute of Turkish Studies.
In April 2007, the Los Angeles Times Managing Editor Douglas Frantz blocked a story on the Armenian Genocide written by Mark Arax, allegedly citing the fact Arax was of Armenian descent and therefore had a biased opinion on the subject. Arax, who has published similar articles before, has lodged a discrimination complaint and threatened a federal lawsuit. Frantz, who did not cite any specific factual errors in the article, is accused of having a bias obtained while being stationed in Istanbul, Turkey. Harut Sassounian, an Armenian community leader, accused Frantz of having expressed support for denial of the Armenian Genocide and has stated he personally believed that Armenians rebelled against the Ottoman Empire, an argument commonly used to justify the killings. Frantz resigned from the paper not long afterward, possibly due to the mounting requests for his dismissal from the Armenian community.
Another incident that received less coverage was a series of hate mail campaigns directed at Paul Krekorian, a city council candidate for Californian Democratic Primary, making racist remarks and accusations that the Armenian community was engaging in voter fraud.
In the 4th episode of Season 3 of the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls (aired on October 14, 2013) "when a new cappuccino maker is brought into the cupcake store by a co-worker, he says he bought it for a cheap price from a person who stole it but sells it at a profit, adding 'it's the Armenian way.' When the character is pressed that he is not Armenian, he says 'I know. But, it’s the Armenian way.'" This scene was characterized as "racist" by Asbarez Editor Ara Khachatourian, who criticized CBS for promotion of racial stereotypes in their shows.
The Jerusalem Post reported in 2009 that out of all Christians in Jerusalem's Old City Armenians were most often spat on by Haredi and Orthodox Jews. In 2011 several instances of spitting and verbal attacks on Armenian clergymen by Haredi Jews were reported in the Old City. In a 2013 interview Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Nourhan Manougian stated that Armenians in Israel are treated as "third-class citizens."
In early 1990, 39 Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan were settled in Tajikistan. False rumors spread that allegedly up to 5,000 Armenians were being resettled in new housing in Dushanbe experiencing acute housing shortage at that time. This led to riots which targeted both the Communist government and Armenians. The Soviet Ministry of Interior (MVD) suppressed the demonstrations, during which more than 20 people were killed and over 500 were injured.
In 2009, an ethnic conflict broke out in the city of Marhanets following the murder of a Ukrainian man by an Armenian. A fight between Ukrainians and Armenians started in the "Scorpion" café, and later turned into riots and pogroms against Armenians, accompanied by the burning of houses and cars, which led to exodus of Armenians from the city.
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Dink had received numerous death threats from nationalist Turks who viewed his iconoclastic journalism, particularly on the mass killings of Armenians in the early 20th century, as an act of treachery.
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:Translated from Turkish: "On May 1, 2011, after investigating into the background of the suspect, we discovered that he was a sympathizer of the BBP. We also have encountured nationalist themes in his social networks. For example, Muhsin Yazicioglu and Abdullah Catli photos were present" according to Balikci lawyer Halavurt.
- "Title translated from Turkish: What Happened to Sevag Balikci?". Radikal (in Turkish). Retrieved 29 December 2012.
Translated from Turkish: "We discovered that he was a sympathizer of the BBP. We also have encountered nationalist themes in his social networks. For example, Muhsin Yazicioglu and Abdullah Catli photos were present" according to Balikci lawyer Halavurt."
- "Sevag’ın Ölümünde Şüpheler Artıyor". Nor Zartonk (in Turkish). Retrieved 29 December 2012.
Title translated from Turkish: Doubts emerge on the death of Sevag
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Title Translated from Turkish: From the fiance: If we were to go to war with Armenia, I would kill you first"
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One banner carried by dozens of protestors said, “You are all Armenians, you are all bastards.”
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‘Mount Ararat will Become Your Grave’ Chant Turkish Students
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Bu PKK'lıların hepsi Ermeni, kendilerini saklıyorlar. Ben Kürdüm, Müslümanım ama ben Ermeni değilim. Ermenilerin sonu gelecek. Allah'ın izniyle sizin sonunuzu getireceğiz. Ne etseniz boş ey Ermeniler, biz sizi biliyoruz. Ne yapsanız boş Ermeniler
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- external link of video
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Армянофобия – институциональная часть современной азербайджанской государственности, и, конечно, Карабах в центре этого всего. "Armenophobia is the institutional part of the modern Azerbaijani statehood and Karabakh is in the center of it."
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Due to the conflict, there is a widespread negative sentiment toward Armenians in Azerbaijani society today." "In general, hate-speech and derogatory public statements against Armenians take place routinely.
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The unresolved conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh stimulated "armenophobia."
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For months, the APF remained a groups of intellectuals with neither official status nor a mass following. Its singular appeal centered on anti-Armenianism, a problem that became more acute after the fall of 1989 when some 200,000 Azerbaijani refugees arrived from Armenian and the NKAO. Since Azerbaijanis were not particularly interested in political reform and since these refugees tended to be very activist and vocal, emphasizing anti-Armenianism became the quickest way to blind some semblance of mass appeal. The Azerbaijanis government's unwillingness to adopt the APF's anti-Armenian agenda resulted in a series of strikes, including a transportation strike aimed at blocking the shipment of supplies to both Armenia and the NKAO.
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By January 1990, Azerbaijan, especially its capital, Baku, were in turmoil. Large rallies by the Azerbaijani Popular Front, the main opposition group, crowded Baku's streets. The rhetoric of these gatherings was heavily anti-Armenian. On January 13, 1990, a second set of anti-Armenian pogroms convulsed the city, taking forty-eight lives.
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Despite the constitutional guarantees against religious discrimination, numerous acts of vandalism against the Armenian Apostolic Church have been reported throughout Azerbaijan.These acts are clearly connected to anti-Armenian sentiments brought to the surface by the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
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In order to lend momentum to this falsified theory, the Georgians have been destroying and "Georgianising" the traces of the historical Armenian presence on Samtskhe-Javakheti territory for hundreds of years: Armenian churches and temples are occupied, and Armenian khachkars and other architectural monuments are mercilessly desecrated.
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