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Turkey’s Long Persecution Against Pontian Christians

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Sumela Monastery in Macka Trabzon Province Turkey e1522262263465

Sumela Monastery in Maçka, Trabzon Province, Turkey. The monastery was founded in AD 386 but was abandoned in 1923 after Greeks were removed from the region. By Julien Lagarde, via Flickr.

In the Turkish city Trabzon, where few Christians are left, St. Maria Catholic Church has suffered its second attack this year. A gunman shot at the church on March 6, but there were no causalities because no one was inside at the time. The congregation is the only active one in Trabzon and has barely a dozen members.

International media first noticed St. Maria on February 5, 2006, when Oğuzhan Akdin murdered Father Andrea Santoro, an Italian Catholic priest who served there. In 2011, it emerged that the police had tapped Santoro’s phones for three months before his murder. Authorities had marked him as a suspect active in “separatist activities based on the Pontian Greek idea,” that is, establishing a Greek Orthodox state in the Black Sea area.

The name of Pontians (or Pontic people) derives from the Greek word “Pontus,” meaning “the sea,” and refers to the Greek population that lived for three millennia in the Black Sea coastal cities, which are now in northern Turkey. The first Greek settlements appeared in the region as early as 800 BC, and many renowned Greek philosophers, such as Diogenes and Strabo, were born here. Trabzon, historically known as Trebizond, is also located in Pontus.

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Mentioned three times in the New Testament, Pontus is central to the Christian faith, and Pontians were some of the very first converts to Christianity. According to the Pontian Greek Society of Chicago, Andrew the Apostle was the first Christian preacher in the region, and after his ministry the religion quickly spread across the area.

However, Anatolian Christianity began to decline in the eleventh century. In 1071, Turkic jihadists from Central Asia invaded the Armenian highland, which was then part of the Greek-speaking, Christian Byzantine Empire. In 1204, Pontians established the Greek Empire of Trebizond centered in Pontus. After the Ottomans established a state in western Anatolia in 1299, they escalated their attacks on surrounding regions. The Byzantine Empire ended when Constantinople fell in 1453, and then in 1461 the Ottomans invaded Trebizond and forced Christians to convert to Islam. Under the new rulers, Christians and Jews became “dhimmis,” third-class citizens forced to pay a tax in exchange for “protection.”

But the most destructive blow to Greek and other Anatolian Christians was the 10-year genocide that took place before, during, and after the World War I. This crime was part of the mass annihilation that exterminated around three million Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks in Asia Minor between 1914 and 1923. The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) has recognized the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities during that period as genocide.

In Dictionary of Genocide, Samuel Totten and Paul R. Bartrop write:

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In a campaign reminiscent of the Armenian genocide that was being perpetuated at roughly the same time, the Pontic Greeks suffered innumerable cruelties at the hands of the Turks. An estimated three hundred fifty-three thousand Pontic Greeks died, many on forced marches through Anatolia and the Syrian Desert just like the Armenians.

The destruction of the Pontic Greeks, and the forcible deportation that followed, had but a single planned outcome: the removal of all Greeks from Turkey… In another parallel with the Armenian situation, successive Turkish governments have denied that the Pontic genocide ever occurred.

The Ottoman government and the military forces led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk massacred and deported not only Pontian Christians but also other Greeks across Anatolia and Thrace. Scholar Vasileios Meichanetsidis writes that this genocidal campaign was “an attempt at a total restructuring of Ottoman society and the creation of a Turkish Muslim national state.” According to various sources, approximately 1 million Ottoman Greeks perished during this period. Turkey then exiled those who survived as part of the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923. Pontian Greeks now reside in Greece, the United States, Russia, Germany, Australia, and Canada, among other countries.

However, many Greeks converted to Islam in order to continue living in their ancient homeland. A descendant of one of those families is Ibrahim Yaylalı, a former Turkish nationalist from the Black Sea city of Samsun. When he discovered his Greek roots, Yaylalı legally changed his Turkish name and became Yannis Vasilis Yaylalı. He then wrote extensively and spoke about the Pontian Genocide until his arrest on April 22, 2017, for his articles and social media posts. While in prison in Elazığ, he recently sent a letter to his partner, Meral Geylani, and said that prison guards had battered him twice.

Ninety-five years have passed since the Pontian Genocide, but the Turkish government continues to erase the few remaining Christian religious and cultural artifacts in the region. For example, Trabzon’s historic Hagia Sophia, the third and youngest of Turkey’s Hagia Sophias, is now a mosque. The Ottomans first converted it into one, and in 1964 Turkey turned the building into a museum. Since 2013, however, it has been a mosque again. Christian symbols in the church have been damaged or destroyed, and curtains create a separate section for women inside.

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Today, only 0.2 percent of Turks are Christian as a result of continued persecution like the genocide, converting churches into mosques, and attacking the remaining churches. While previous regimes completed the physical annihilation of Christians in the region, attacks on the few remaining Christian symbols in the country continues.

Uzay Bulut, a journalist and political analyst born in Turkey, is currently based in Washington, DC. She is an associate fellow of the Philos Project. Her journalistic work focuses mainly on Turkey’s ethnic and religious minorities, political Islam, and the history of Turkey.  Follow her on Twitter: @uzayb.

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Netherlands: Muslim adviser to ruling party spent time in prison as part of jihad group that wanted to kill Wilders

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Soumaya Sahla

Soumaya Sahla has just resigned as an adviser to the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte. This is because it was recently revealed that in 2005, Sahla was arrested and charged with terrorist activities as a member of the Hofstad Network, an Islamic jihad group in the Netherlands that wanted to murder Wilders for criticizing of Islam. She had an automatic weapon when she was arrested, and spent three years in prison. The VVD apparently didn’t know or care about her past, until Wilders called attention to it. After all, they hate Wilders, too.

“Frits Bosch column: Soumaya had the entire VVD by the tail,” translated by Gary Fouse from “Column Frits Bosch: Soumaya had hele VVD bij de staart,” by Frits Bosch, De Dagelijske Standaard, January 27, 2022

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Since 2011, Soumaya Sahla has been the right hand of the VVD celebrity Frits Bolkestein, 88. She was never a problem for the party until Geert Wilders rang the bell, and her past was revealed during the Second Chamber (Parliament) talks over the coalition accord. The mainstream media and the (2nd) Chamber were furious that Wilders came forward, he was “racist”. Until big objections arose against her from the VVD itself, “How can this be, why didn’t we know?”. A spicy detail is that Geert Wilders himself enjoyed the mentorship of van Bolkestein as a faction member of the VVD. It is completely right that Wilders came forward. Fortunately, there is still someone awake in the 2nd Chamber.

It would be appropriate if the mainstream media swiftly offered their apologies to Wilders. Naturally, they won’t do that. The moral level of the mainstream media and Chamber members is lousy, but that’s not news. Ignore the potential danger of a dangerous threat.

Soumaya is working on a dissertation on “the orthodox, religious worldview”. Sahla is Muslim, fine. But she was and perhaps still is orthodox, Islamist, Salafist. I hope that she will also read the books by Christopher Hitchens, “God is not great” and by Afshin Ellian, “Allah does not know better”. They (would) save her a lot of work.

Islam has the controversial practice of taqiyya. It would allow Muslims, “for the good cause” to feign integration and moderation, to emerge like a devil out of a box as a true Muslim if that makes sense. So in England, in part of London, sharia law applies. Here no. Do (Kauthar) Bouchallikht and Sahla practice taqiyya? We’ll never know.

The next question is how is Kauthar Bouchallikht doing, also with her “fine past”. She is keeping a low profile and so is the Green-Left (party). Incomprehensible that these women with a terrible history, got through the beauty commission of our political parties. It works every time. Where is the thinking? This cannot be?!

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They are, indeed, “clean women”. Somaya Sahla is herself stunning in a pretty suit in order to come across as especially adapted. Would she “tickle” Bolkestein in his (sensitive) place? What do you think?

Bolkestein has been a first-class mop throughout his unimpressive political career. A frightfully vain fellow, as I once noticed during a seminar on Islam. He is a man who says A but shrinks from B. He thought that we and (Pim) Fortuyn would cut a sorry figure internationally. Now he has made a fool of himself. Justifiably, this dull party is in a heavy downward trend.

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Below, from Blikopnieuws (see link) is a translation of Sahla’s statement:

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“There has been a lot of commotion in the past weeks about me and my past. I regret that deeply and feel the need to say a few things about it. I want to be held accountable for a period of 16 years ago which I am not proud of. It is a black page in my life. I deeply regret the choices that I made then, and everyone in my circle knows that about me. I turned those pages a long time ago. I now see that it is good that (I) also express this regret publicly.

I gladly dedicate myself daily to the safety and freedom of our beautiful country. From this motivation, I am also actively involved in the VVD. The commotion that has arisen stands in the way of my positive contribution at this time. Thus, I am resigning my chairmanship in the J and V thematic network. I remain motivated to look where I can make a contribution in a free and safe society. I am also remaining in the VVD.”

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PA Court Finds State’s “Universal Mail-In Voting Act 77” Unconstitutional

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pa mail in ruling 01

A big new ruling just came out of Pennsylvania, where a state court ruled that PA’s “Mail-in Voting Act 77” was unconstitutional.

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Gee, that would’ve been nice to know about a year ago, right?

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You may recall the TIME Magazine bombshell piece that made a lot of waves for revealing this was how they “fortified” the election — by changing the laws without actually making them a “law.”

Tricky move. 

Hard to call it “cheating” when the state’s congressional representatives implemented it, right? It looks legit and seems so “official” to people when it’s done that way.

Well, it was a good cover, as we can clearly and sadly see.

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MORE NEWS: [VIDEO] Cops Form Jaw-Dropping “Sea of Blue” Straight Down 5th Ave in New York City

Fox 43 reported that a statewide court says Pennsylvania’s expansive two-year-old mail-in voting law is unconstitutional, agreeing with challenges by Republicans who soured on mail-in voting after then-President Donald Trump began baselessly attacking it as rife with fraud in 2020′s campaign.

According to a Commonwealth Court filing released Friday, the court ruled that Act 77, allowing residents to vote by mail in Pennsylvania, violates Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania constitution.

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The Commonwealth Court denied the Pa. Department of State acting secretary’s application for summary relief.
In the ruling, Commonwealth Court President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt wrote, “If presented to the people, a constitutional amendment to end Article VII, Section 1 requirement of in-person voting is likely to be adopted. But a constitutional amendment must be presented to the people and adopted into our fundamental law before legislation allowing no-excuse mail-in voting can be ‘placed upon our statute books.’”

Friday’s decision by a five-judge Commonwealth Court panel could be put on hold immediately by an appeal from Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to the state Supreme Court.
The decision throws the state’s voting laws into doubt in a big election year.
The three Republican judges agreed with Republican challengers.

The two Democrats on the panel dissented.

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I am sure Dems will challenge this all the way up to the state’s Supreme Court.

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