Posted by parhad on July 21, 2001 at 16:06:54:
The Christian Russian army that occupied Urmia in 1914-15 wasn't there to "protect" the Christian Assyrians. Whatever they were there for, it wasn't that. The
Tzar's army was a part of the War effort and were likely stationed there to protect his own interests. Undoubtedly the Christian Russian commander befriended the
Christian Assyrian community. He well may have invited leading members of the community to his camp for dinner, as he may have visited the homes of leading
Christians. His soldiers may have worshipped at the Assyrian churches, or at the least felt more comfortable there than in the mosques. Young Assyrian women may
have found the Christian soldiers attractive in their Russian uniforms. I know my Great Uncle Babajan Malik, a lad of 18 at the time, so impressed the commander
with his military skills, that he and his "troop" of Assyrian boys were given rifles and encouraged in other ways.
The local Moslem population was left out of all of this commraderie and good times. The Muslims of Russia weren't exactly cherished by their own countrymen
either. They must have reacted with jealousy and resentment at this preferential treatment accorded to their already despised Christian neighbors, by what was after
all an invading army which was now occupying their land and whose soldiers worshipped a god the Muslims were taught to distrust if not hate. Perhaps the Assyrians
felt a tad bit too secure and maybe they strutted around a little, somewhat bolder for the Russian presence. Or maybe not, but the addmitedly ignorant and backward
Moslem peasants may have seen it that way...not the brightest bulbs.
Then the Revolution came to Russia and the army was recalled to fight the Red Russians, the Bolsheviks. The Assyrian Christians were left as before...except it
WASN'T as before...things had changed drastically. For one thing, England, France, Germany and soon America were lining up to divide the "Sick ZMan Of
Europe"..Turkey, among themselves (something they eventually did). And as much as the Ottoman Turks may have been hated, still they were the fellow
co-religionists of the Moslem Kurds, Persians and others in that region. Christian Assyrians should well understand the desire to identify with your co-religionists,
even if it doesn't always make good sense, doesn't serve your own interests in the end.
Now the Kurds, Turks and Persians could vent their resentment, take out their hostitlity on the Christian community which had for a brief moment dared to feel
somewhat secure. It would be tempting, undeniably so, to feel a little more secure with something backing you up, protecting you, certainly a new and welcome
feeling to the Assyrian Christian community which had NEVER had such a thing before. Tempting but ultimately destructive. No Christian country has ever shown
any interest in protecting Assyrians. They have either used them, or just camped nearby, leading our people to assume they were "safer", but also leading the
surrounding Muslims to assume they were being treacherous as well...or would be if they had the chance. Why give them the chance?
I suppose it was really over for us in those countries when the Europeans first began eyeing the resources of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. It was only a matter of
time before hatred at the invading Christian armies...which the peasantry had no way of fighting back at, would spill over onto the one Christian entity any resentful
Moslem could lash out against, innocent Assyrian Christians.
In 1956 when the British bombed Port Said in Egypt because Nasser closed the Suez to their ships...killing hundreds of civilians...I remember well almost being
killed that day by a mob of screaming, enraged Moslem students and teachers at school in Kuwait. They knew I wasn't English, that I'd been born in Baghdad. But
just the fact that we'd lived in America for three years and spoke English and wore blue jeans AND were identified as Christians...was enough for them. They felt so
impotent...(no other Christian family sent their children to a Moslem school...all the others were in boarding school in Europe)...so angry, so far removed from being
able to strike back at the British Christian pilots.... and being MOSTLY ignorant, they vented their anger on my brother and I, JUST TO DO SOMETHING. They
were in no mood for a discussion about nationality verses language and religion...they wanted blood...any Christian's would do. How different is this from the feeling
of rage against past Moslem injustices committed years ago, which leads Assyrians today to gloat over the misery of present day Muslims in Iraq...people who had
nothing to do with 1915, and who for all we know may be those "good" Muslims, the "good" Christians would recognize?
I'm not excusing anything. When an American historian or journalist or writer examines his own history in an effort to understand it and doesn't just echo the "party"
line, only the most ignorant and backward people call him a coward or traitor. It is foolish to refuse to understand your enemy's point of view. If you can see how he
perceives things you might be able to get out of harms way in time, with your family and your head intact. Or you may be able to anticipate his moves and thwart his
designs. After the First World war, with all those countries firmly in Moslem hands, there was NO way Christians would survive long. What's the point of refusing to
look about you and being forced out eventually AFTER you've lost everything and your family has been killed off or worse? How many Jews refused to understand
their fellow German's when Nazism first caught their fancy? How many refused to believe that what was being fortold, would indeed come to pass?
Why wait till you are spat upon, and scourged, and whipped and crucified? "WAIT...did you say CRUCIFIED"? I did...."well then, NOW you're talking"!
Is it possible that deep inside, each Christian Assyrian has a button marked "Crucify"?