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  • #11
    Just an everyday occurence in Islam

    I suppose Western Europeans should apologise for this:

    Afghan girls used as currency, traded for debts, blood feuds
    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Despite advances in women's rights, girls are traded like currency in Afghanistan and forced marriages are common. Antiquated tribal laws authorize a practice where girls are used to settle disputes ranging from debts to murder

    JALALABAD, Afghanistan - The Associated Press

    Unable to scrounge together the $165 (120 euros) he needed to repay a loan to buy sheep, Nazir Ahmad made good on his debt by selling his 16-year-old daughter to marry the lender's son. "He gave me nine sheep," Ahmad said, describing his family's woes since taking the loan. "Because of nine sheep, I gave away my daughter." Seated beside him in the cramped compound, his daughter Malia's eyes filled with tears. She used a black scarf to wipe them away. Despite advances in women's rights and at least one tribe's move to outlaw the practice, girls are traded like currency in Afghanistan and forced marriages are common. Antiquated tribal laws authorize the practice known as "bad" in the Afghan language Dari - and girls are used to settle disputes ranging from debts to murder.

    Bride price: Such exchanges bypass the hefty bride price of a traditional betrothal, which can cost upward of US$1,000 (730 euros). Roughly two out of five Afghan marriages are forced, says the country's Ministry of Women's Affairs. "It's really sad to do this in this day and age, exchange women," said Manizha Naderi, the director of the aid organization Women for Afghan Women. "They're treated as commodities." Though violence against women remains widespread, Afghanistan has taken significant strides in women's rights since the hard-line Taliban years, when women were virtual prisoners - banned from work, school or leaving home unaccompanied by a male relative. Millions of girls now attend school and women fill jobs in government and media. There are also signs of change for the better inside the largest tribe in eastern Afghanistan - the deeply conservative Shinwaris. Shinwari elders from several districts signed a resolution this year outlawing several practices that harm girls and women. These included a ban on using girls to settle so-called blood feuds - when a man commits murder, he must hand over his daughter or sister as a bride for a man in the victim's family. The marriage ostensibly "mixes blood to end the bloodshed." Otherwise, revenge killings often continue between the families for generations.

    BBC report initiating change: Jan Shinwari, a businessman and provincial council member, said a BBC radio report by a female journalist from the Shinwari tribe, Malalai Shinwari, had exposed the trade of girls and shamed the elders into passing the resolution to end the practice. "I did this work not because of human rights, but for Afghan women, for Afghan girls not to be exchanged for stupid things," Jan Shinwari said. "When Malalai Shinwari reported this story about exchanging girls for animals, when I heard this BBC report, I said, 'Let's make a change."' Now a lawmaker in Parliament, Malalai Shinwari said her report had the impact she intended. She called the changes to tribal laws a "big victory for me." About 600 elders from the Shinwar district put their purple thumbprint "signatures" on the handwritten resolution. More than 20 Shinwari leaders gathered in the eastern city of Jalalabad, nodding earnestly and muttering their consent as the changes were discussed last week. They insisted that women given away for such marriages - including those to settle blood feuds - were treated well in their new families. But the elders declined requests to meet any of the women or their families. "Nobody treats them badly," Malik Niaz said confidently, stroking his long white beard. "Everyone respects women." But Afghan women say this could not be further from the truth. "By establishing a family relationship, we want to bring peace. But in reality, that is not the case," said Hangama Anwari, an independent human rights commissioner and founder of the Women and Children Legal Research Foundation. The group investigated about 500 cases of girls given in marriage to settle blood feuds and found only four or five that ended happily. Much more often, the girl suffered for a crime committed by a male relative, she said.

    Often beaten or killed:

    "We punish a person who has done nothing wrong, but the person who has killed someone is free. He can move freely,and he can kill a second person, third person because he will never be punished," Anwari said. A girl is often beaten and sometimes killed because when the family looks at her, they see the killer. "Because they lost someone, they take it out on her," Naderi said. There are no reliable statistics on blood feud marriages, a hidden practice. When it happens, the families and eldersoften will not reveal details of the crime or the punishment. Several years ago in nearby Momand Dara district, a taxi driver hit a boy with his car, killing him. The boy's family demanded a girl as compensation, so the driver purchased an 11-year-old named Fawzia from an acquaintance for $5,000 and gave her to the dead boy's relatives, according to the Afghan Women's Network office in Jalalabad. Three years ago, Fawzia was shot to death, according to a two-page report kept in a black binder of cases of violenceagainst women. The story of Malia and the nine sheep illustrates the suffering of girls forced into such marriages. Malia listened as her father described how he was held hostage by his lender, Khaliq Mohammad, because he couldnot come up with the money to pay for the sheep, which Ahmad had sold to free a relative seized because of anotherof Ahmad's debts. Ahmad was released only when he agreed to give Malia's hand in marriage to the lender's 18-year-old son. Asked howshe felt about it, Malia shook her head and remained silent. Her face then crumpled in anguish and she wiped away tears. Asked if she was happy, she responded halfheartedly, "Well, my mother and father agreed ... " Her voice trailed off, and she cried again. Does she want to meet her husband-to-be? She clicked her tongue - a firm, yet delicate "tsk" - with a barely perceptible shake of her head. The answer was no.


    • #12
      Originally posted by Joseph View Post
      The Arabs have been very involved in the slave trade for centuries and in places like Dubai and Bahrain it still exists today. Sudan is another example.
      Mauritania as well.


      • #13
        The Persistence of Islamic Slavery
        By Robert Spencer | July 20, 2007

        The International Criminal Court recently issued warrants for the arrest of Ahmed Haroun, the minister for humanitarian affairs of Sudan, and Ali Kosheib, a leader of that country’s notorious janjaweed militia. The Sudanese government has refused to hand over the two for prosecution. Charges include murder, rape, torture and “imprisonment or severe deprivation of liberty.” Severe deprivation of liberty is a euphemism for slavery. Egypt’s Al-Ahram Weekly observed not long ago that in Sudan, “slavery, sanctioned by religious zealots, ravaged the southern parts of the country and much of the west as well.”
        Muslim slavers in the Sudan primarily enslave non-Muslims, and chiefly Christians. According to the Coalition Against Slavery in Mauritania and Sudan (CASMAS), a human rights and abolitionist movement, “The current Khartoum government wants to bring the non-Muslim black South in line with Sharia law, laid down and interpreted by conservative Muslim clergy. The black animist and Christian South has been ravaged for many years of slave raids by Arabs from the north and east and resists Muslim religious rule and the perceived economic, cultural, and religious expansion behind it.”

        The BBC reported in March 2007 that slave raids “were a common feature of Sudan’s 21-year north-south war, which ended in 2005….According to a study by the Kenya-based Rift Valley Institute, some 11,000 young boys and girls were seized and taken across the internal border -- many to the states of South Darfur and West Kordofan….Most were forcibly converted to Islam, given Muslim names and told not to speak their mother tongue.” One modern-day Sudanese Christian slave, James Pareng Alier, was kidnapped and enslaved when he was twelve years old. Religion was a major element of his ordeal: “I was forced to learn the Koran and re-baptised “Ahmed.” They told me that Christianity was a bad religion. After a time we were given military training and they told us we would be sent to fight.” Alier has no idea of his family’s whereabouts. But while non-Muslims slaves are often forcibly converted to Islam, their conversion does not lead to their freedom. Mauritanian anti-slavery campaigner Boubacar Messaoud explains: “It’s like having sheep or goats. If a woman is a slave, her descendants are slaves.”

        Anti-slavery crusaders like Messaoud have great difficulty working against this attitude because it is rooted in the Qur’an and Muhammad’s example. The Muslim prophet Muhammad owned slaves, and like the Bible, the Qur’an takes the existence of slavery for granted, even as it enjoins the freeing of slaves under certain circumstances, such as the breaking of an oath: “Allah will not call you to account for what is futile in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths: for expiation, feed ten indigent persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom” (5:89). But while the freeing of a slave or two here and there is encouraged, the institution itself is never questioned. The Qur’an even gives a man permission to have sexual relations with his slave girls as well as with his wives: “The believers must (eventually) win through, those who humble themselves in their prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are active in deeds of charity; who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess, for (in their case) they are free from blame…” (23:1-6). A Muslim is not to have sexual relations with a woman who is married to someone else – except a slave girl: “And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you” (4:24).

        In the past, as today, most slaves in Islam were non-Muslims who had been captured during jihad warfare. The pioneering scholar of the treatment of non-Muslims in Islamic societies, Bat Ye’or, explains the system that developed out of jihad conquest:

        The jihad slave system included contingents of both sexes delivered annually in conformity with the treaties of submission by sovereigns who were tributaries of the caliph. When Amr conquered Tripoli (Libya) in 643, he forced the Jewish and Christian Berbers to give their wives and children as slaves to the Arab army as part of their jizya [tax on non-Muslims]. From 652 until its conquest in 1276,
        Nubia was forced to send an annual contingent of slaves to Cairo. Treaties concluded with the towns of Transoxiana, Sijistan, Armenia, and Fezzan (Maghreb) under the Umayyads and Abbasids stipulated an annual dispatch of slaves from both sexes. However, the main sources for the supply of slaves remained the regular raids on villages within the dar-al-harb [House of War, i.e., non-Islamic regions] and the military expeditions which swept more deeply into the infidel lands, emptying towns and provinces of their inhabitants.[1]

        Historian Speros Vryonis observes that “since the beginning of the Arab razzias [raids] into the land of Rum [the Byzantine Empire], human booty had come to constitute a very important portion of the spoils.” As they steadily conquered more and more of Anatolia, the Turks reduced many of the Greeks and other non-Muslims there to slave status: “They enslaved men, women, and children from all major urban centers and from the countryside where the populations were defenseless.”[2] The Indian historian K. S. Lal states that wherever jihadists conquered a territory, “there developed a system of slavery peculiar to the clime, terrain and populace of the place.” When Muslim armies invaded India, “its people began to be enslaved in droves to be sold in foreign lands or employed in various capacities on menial and not-so-menial jobs within the country.”[3]

        Slaves faced pressure to convert to Islam. In an analysis of Islamic political theories, Patricia Crone notes that after a jihad battle was concluded, “male captives might be killed or enslaved…Dispersed in Muslim households, slaves almost always converted, encouraged or pressurized [sic] by their masters, driven by a need to bond with others, or slowly, becoming accustomed to seeing things through Muslim eyes even if they tried to resist.”[4] Thomas Pellow, an Englishman who was enslaved in Morocco for twenty-three years after being captured as a cabin boy on a small English vessel in 1716, was tortured until he accepted Islam. For weeks he was beaten and starved, and finally gave in after his torturer resorted to “burning my flesh off my bones by fire, which the tyrant did, by frequent repetitions, after a most cruel manner.”[5]

        Slavery was taken for granted throughout Islamic history, as it was, of course, in the West as well up until relatively recent times. Yet while the European and American slave trade get stern treatment attention from historians (as well as from reparations advocates and guilt-ridden politicians), the Islamic slave trade, which actually lasted longer and brought suffering to a larger number of people, is virtually ignored. (This fact magnifies the irony of Islam being presented to American blacks as the egalitarian alternative to the “white man’s slave religion” of Christianity.) While historians estimate that the transatlantic slave trade, which operated between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, involved around 10.5 million people, the Islamic slave trade in the Sahara, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean areas began in the seventh century and lasted into the nineteenth, and involved 17 million people.[6]

        And when pressure came to end slavery, it moved from Christendom into Islam, not the other way around. There was no Muslim William Wilberforce or William Lloyd Garrison. In fact, when the British government in the nineteenth century adopted the view of Wilberforce and the other abolitionists and began to put pressure on pro-slavery regimes, the Sultan of Morocco was incredulous. “The traffic in slaves,” he noted, “is a matter on which all sects and nations have agreed from the time of the sons of Adam...up to this day.” He said that he was “not aware of its being prohibited by the laws of any sect” and that the very idea that anyone would question its morality was absurd: “No one need ask this question, the same being manifest to both high and low and requires no more demonstration than the light of day.”[7]

        However, it was not the unanimity of human practice, but the words of the Qur’an and Muhammad that were decisive in stifling abolitionist movements within the Islamic world. Slavery was abolished only as a result of Western pressure; the Arab Muslim slave trade in Africa was ended by the force of British arms in the nineteenth century.

        Besides being practiced more or less openly today in Sudan and Mauritania, there is evidence that slavery still continues beneath the surface in some majority-Muslim countries as well -- notably Saudi Arabia, which only abolished slavery in 1962, Yemen and Oman, both of which ended legal slavery in 1970, and Niger, which didn’t abolish slavery until 2004. In Niger, the ban is widely ignored, and as many as one million people remain in bondage. Slaves are bred, often raped, and generally treated like animals.

        A shadow cast by the strength and perdurability of Islamic slavery can be seen in instances where Muslims have managed to import this institution to the United States. A Saudi named Homaidan Al-Turki, for instance, was sentenced in September 2006 to 27 years to life in prison, for keeping a woman as a slave in his home in Colorado. For his part, Al-Turki claimed that he was a victim of anti-Muslim bias. He told the judge: “Your honor, I am not here to apologize, for I cannot apologize for things I did not do and for crimes I did not commit. The state has criminalized these basic Muslim behaviors. Attacking traditional Muslim behaviors was the focal point of the prosecution.” The following month, an Egyptian couple living in Southern California received a fine and prison terms, to be followed by deportation, after pleading guilty to holding a ten-year-old girl as a slave. And in January 2007, an attaché of the Kuwaiti embassy in Washington, Waleed Al Saleh, and his wife were charged with keeping three Christian domestic workers from India in slave-like conditions in al-Saleh’s Virginia home. One of the women remarked: “I believed that I had no choice but to continue working for them even though they beat me and treated me worse than a slave.”

        All this indicates that the problem of Islamic slavery is not restricted to recent events in the Sudan; it is much larger and more deeply rooted. The United Nations and human rights organizations have noted the phenomenon, but nevertheless little has been done to move decisively against those who still hold human beings in bondage, or aid or tolerate others doing so. The UN has tried to place peacekeeping forces in Darfur, over the objections of the Sudanese government, but its remonstrations against slavery in Sudan and elsewhere have likewise not resulted in significant government action against the practice. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also noted the problem, but as HRW observes, “the government of Sudan has stonewalled on the issue of slavery, claiming it was a matter of rival tribes engaging in hostage taking, over which it had little control. That is simply untrue, as myriad reports coming out of southern Sudan have made abundantly clear.” For Islamic slavery to disappear, a powerful state would have to move against it decisively, not with mere words, and accept no equivocation of half-measures. In today’s international geopolitical climate, nothing could be less likely.


        [1] Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, Fairleigh xxxxinson University Press, 1996, p. 108.
        [2] Speros Vryonis, The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the Process of Islamization from the Eleventh through the Fifteenth Century, Berkeley, 1971. P. 174-5. Quoted in Bostom, Legacy of Jihad, p. 87.
        [3] K. S. Lal, Muslim Slave System in Medieval India, Aditya Prakashan, 1994. P. 9.
        [4] Patricia Crone, God’s Rule: Government and Islam, Columbia University Press, 2004. Pp. 371-372. Quoted in Bostom, Legacy of Jihad, p. 86.
        [5] Giles Milton, White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and Islam’s One Million White Slaves, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004. P. 84.
        [6] Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, Prometheus, 2005, pp. 89-90.
        [7] Quoted in Bernard Lewis, Race and Slavery in the Middle East, Oxford University Press, 1994. Reprinted at
        General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


        • #14
          Originally posted by bell-the-cat View Post
          1/ Slavery was non-existant in Europe during the Middle-Ages
          2/ and Renaissance periods,
          3/ whereas it flourished throughout the Islamic world during the same period.
          4/ Slavery in European colonies lasted for an extremely short period of time, and was halted at the initiative of European Powers,
          5/ whereas it continued unabated in the Islamic world, and, in certain parts, survives there to this day. I think I have read somewhere of estimates of the number of people enslaved by the Islamic world, can't locate it at the moment, but the total numbered hundreds of millions.
          1/ Slavery began in Europe in the IX century. Razzias on pagan Slaves (Poles, Russians) were frequent from the Holy Roman German Empire. Popes of Rome had given some religious rights to do this "trade". That's why slaves are called "slaves" (of slavonic countries). The captured Slaves were driven to harbours of South Italy (Amalfi, etc.), then to be sent to Calife Empire, specially Fatimid Egypt.

          2/ Western Slavery began in the XVI the century with the Portuguese

          3/ I would like to say that
          - slaves in Islamic law were captured at the occasion of war on the front (it was not the case with the Europeans, it was done in peace)
          - according to the islamic Law, a slave could buy or reimbourse its 'salvery' to get free
          - slaves in the East were considered as part of the family. Slaves in the west were considered as productors of work (plantations, mills, etc.)

          4/ Slavery stopped in the West not only because of humanitarian feelings, but they noticed that it was not efficient to keep slaves during the whole year. It was an economic reason.

          I have created a page on "Slavery for compared Memories" :



          • #15

            Armenians in the Ottoman Army (From the 14th Century till 1918)

            [April 23, 2008]

            Armenians in the Janissary Corps

            Subject Christian nations in the Ottoman Empire were viewed as suspect elements and thus weren’t conscripted into the ranks of the army and were not granted the permission to bear arms and most importantly, based on Sharia law, could not serve in the army of the faith given that they were non-believers.
            In order to utilize their Christian subjects for military purposes and for the sultans to fulfill their ever-present military ambitions, the Ottoman rulers started to implement the devshirme, a Turkish term meaning gathering, which in this context takes on the meaning of a “boy harvest/collection”. The Sultan authorities would periodically go to the Christian populated-provinces to gather up the most handsome, strongest, healthy an clever young boys and teenagers. After converting them to Islam, they would send the boys to special army detachments called acemi oglan (foreign boy). Here the boys would be taught various military skills and experience and imbued with a degree of religious fanaticism. Thus, they were transformed into masters of the military arts and soldiers ready to enter the ranks of the Janissary Corps, loyal warriors for the Sultan and the Muslim faith.

            The Janissary Corps (Turkish: yeni cheri, or new troops) was created in 1361-1363 during the reign of Sultan Murat I and became a major, elite force of the Ottoman army. It was completely comprised of Christians forcibly converted to Islam. At first the ranks of the Janissary were made up of captured enemy soldiers. Christian inhabitants captured by the Ottoman Empire were viewed as war prisoners and were forcibly sold off based on the penj-yek human tax classification, according to which one out of every five prisoners was handed over to the Ottomans to fill the ranks of the army. After consolidating their occupied lands the Christian inhabitants became subjects of the Ottoman Empire and the devshirme could be practiced against them. According to the records of Armenian chroniclers, the “boy harvest” practice began in Western Armenia in 1464. During the three-century history of the devshirme practice, the periodic collections became more frequent during those periods when the Ottoman Empire was engaged in wars of expansion.

            It is not known how large the purely Armenian element was in the Janissary multitudes. Over many generations, the most promising representatives of the Armenian people were removed from their national surroundings and served in the name of the victory of a foreign nation and religion. There were individuals in the Janissary Corps of Armenian origin that were able to attain positions of high rank in the Ottoman military and government due to their bravery and skills.

            A notable Janissary of Armenian origin was the 17th century naval commander and Grand Vizier Khalil Pasha, who acts of courage have been glorified in the annals of Ottoman history. He was appointed Grand Vizier after emerging victorious in a 1609 naval battle. He thwarted the Kazak forays from Sinope and renewed the peace treaty with Poland and Austria. He fought against the Persians and forced Shah Abbas into signing a ceasefire treaty.

            Of Armenian origin was the Ottoman commander and political statesman Ermeni Suleyman Pasha (1605-1680). Due to his God-given talents, cleverness and valor, he was able to rise from the ranks of a common soldier and become Grand Vizier and one of the most renowned figures in Ottoman history. Suleyman Pasha wasn’t the first Armenian forcibly converted to Islam nor the last. However, he was perhaps the only one who never hid his national roots and he always used the term Ermeni (Armenian) in his official rank, even while Grand Vizier.

            Without doubt one can claim that there were other Armenians besides Khalil Pasha and Suleyman Pasha who were forcibly to Islam and proved themselves worthy on the battlefield but were remembered in the historic annals as being Turks, merely because they served in the Ottoman ranks. The names of these individuals either never reached us or Turkish historians decided it best not to mention their actual national origins. Such is the case of Sinan the Great, the most famous Ottoman architect of the 16th century. For quite a long time, Turkish and other scholars wanted to strip Sinan of his national origins. That glory was finally bestowed on the Armenian nation when a document was published in a Turkish scientific review in 1931 attesting to Sinan’s Armenian extraction. According to the document Sinan served as a combat engineer in a Janissary (Christian-based) detachment. He participated in the 1524 Balkan wars and the 1534 Baghdad campaign. Sinan is famous for his many military construction works, hospitals, bridges, etc. He took Islamic architecture to the height of perfection and has earned a place in the history of world art as one of the greatest architects ever.

            Armenian Mercenaries

            Despite the fact that non-believers couldn’t serve in the ranks of the “army of the faith”, Ottoman rulers, based on the interests of the state, overlooked such religious norms and included Christians in their military forces. Armenian mercenaries served in both the Ottoman infantry and cavalry. Armenians were employed in military units called salakhoran, to open roadways. They were dispatched at the head of the army and would clear the way for the advancing troops, by felling trees and filling in swamplands. There were entire Armenian units of sappers in the Ottoman army that were considered vital during raids and forays. Many of these units were comprised of Armenians from Gesaria (Kayseri). Armenian soldiers were inn the front ranks of the advancing Ottoman army before laying siege to any town and they were the ones responsible for digging trenches eventually leading to the town gates. Other units were made up of Armenian stonemasons from the villages whose main task was to undermine the stone walls of any fort or castle by digging away at the base.

            Armenian mercenaries also served in the Ottoman navy. It was during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid I (1771-1788) that the number of such mercenaries increased when Admiral Cezayirli Hasan Pasha, of Armenian origin, served as Admiral of the navy. 75% of those sailors manning the cannons on Ottoman ships were either Armenian or Greek. Armenians also served as standard-bearers on Ottoman war ships. Hasan Pasha Ghazi was from a poor Armenian family in the Holy Cross neighborhood of the town of Rodosto. His parents were forced to hand over the boy to an Ottoman merchant as a servant. This merchant gave the boy the name of Hasan. He eventually entered into military service with the Ottoman fleet and became famous for the many contributions he made to the navy, including his participation in the siege of the island of Malta. He earned the nickname of ghazi (victor).

            Armenian Payments to the Ottoman Army

            Over the centuries the material contributions made by the Empire’s Christian Armenian subjects to the strengthening of the Ottoman Army reached sizeable amounts. These amounts were in the form of taxes and other tributes that the Empire’s Muslim subjects did not have to pay. Non-Muslim subjects could avoid military service by paying what is known as a “head” tax. Most of the taxes collected for military proposes were levied against subject peoples in the Empire and especially the Christians. During times of war, Christian subjects were obliged to cover the military expenses of the Empire through the collection of a variety of taxes and other payments. Even during peacetime, the Ottoman authorities collected a variety of taxes from the Christians to maintain their army. Given that the amount of these taxes and other forms of tribute was never clearly defined, the sums to be collected were left to the whim of the local officials. Oftentimes Ottoman soldiers would confiscate the crosses and Bibles from Armenian churches and sell these items to cover military expenses. Armenian villages and settlements were randomly pillaged for the same purpose.

            Armenian Craftsmen in the Service of the Army

            For many consecutive centuries the numbers of Armenian craftsmen constantly servicing the Ottoman army and navy were great indeed. Armenian arms makers were of the highest quality and forged swords, fashioned gun barrels, repaired damaged arms and provided a host of other services. These arms makers were an integral component of the army and traveled with the troops throughout various military campaigns. Also in the service of the Ottoman army were thousands of saddle-makers, tailors, musicians and other craftsmen.

            Armenians and Greeks made up most of the master shipbuilders for the Ottoman military fleet. From the 18th to the 19th century the official blacksmiths for the navy was the Demirjibashian family. In the 18th century Kevork Demirjibashian became the royal fitter for the fleet and the director of the naval arsenal that had been formerly under the management of the Armenian, Mardiros the Craftsman. It was Kevork that designed the contemporary ship anchor that the Europeans adopted as their own.

            For one entire century the gunpowder works of the Ottoman Empire was in the hands of the Dadian Family. Known for their inventiveness and skills they managed to transform their gunpowder factory into the best in the country and a state institution to be envied.

            Armenian arms makers also forged weapons for the Janissary troops. The weapons makers of Garin (Erzeroum) were regarded in high standing in the capital of Constantinople. The craft of weapons making reached its artistic height in the hands of master craftsman Sarkis Ajemian. He was the official sword maker for Sultan Abdul Hamid II. The works of Sarkis Ajemian are on display at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Benaki Museum in Athens.

            Armenian Outfitters for the Army

            Armenian merchants were the ones who basically outfitted the Ottoman Army. It was Apraham Chelebi Abroian who outfitted the army during the conquest of Crete in 1646. Manoug Bey Mirzanian (1769-1817) was an advisor to Mustafa Pasha Bayrakdari who was the commander of the Ottoman Army in the Danube.

            It was Manoug Bey who was given the responsibility of war provisions and repair services during the 1806-1812 Russo-Turkish War. He was also given the authority to enter into negotiations with the Russians at the war’s end.

            It was due to this skillful statesman that the Treaty of Bucharest was signed in 1812, effectively preventing the plans of Napoleon Bonaparte to draw the two sides into prolonged warfare. It was during the Crimean War (1853-1856) that Haji Ohan Yaghjian of Kharpert was given the task of supplying provisions for the Ottoman Army. In 1865, Krikor Shabanian held the post of General Provisions Director for the royal army. During the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War he participated in the deliberations of the committee concerning the overall outfitting of the Ottoman military.

            Armenian Military Doctors

            Both due to the possibilities granted by the Tanzimat (1839) and due to the shortage of Turkish doctors in the country, Armenian doctors educated in European universities began to serve in the Ottoman Army. Armenian graduates of the Imperial Military Physicians Institute also started to fill the ranks of Armenian military doctors in the Ottoman Army. More than 170 top ranking Armenian military doctors were bestowed with the honorary titles of “Pasha” and “Bey”. Those with the military rank of marshal or general were given the honorarium of “Pasha” while colonels were bestowed with the title of “Bey”.

            Armenian military doctors participated in a host of military campaigns and served in a number of military hospitals and contributed greatly in the organizational work of medical services. Many of them also were instructors in the Empire’s military physicians institute. They also make a substantial contribution in the development of the field of medical science. It was due to their efforts that an Imperial Medical Association was formed with an initial membership of some 55 Armenian physicians. The Ottoman Red Crescent Society was formed as a result of the efforts of Gabriel Pasha Sevian, Hagop Bey Tavutian and other Armenian military doctors.

            In addition to Armenian military physicians, the number of Armenian pharmacists and veterinarians in various Ottoman military units was also great.

            Armenian Officials with Military Rank

            A wide field opened for Armenians to serve in the government beginning in the middle of the 19th century. In addition to other state departments, Armenians were employed in positions of responsibility in the Naval and War Ministries. Some of these officials were granted high military ranks during their terms of service. Andon Yaver Pasha Tengrian worked in the translations office at the Sublime Ports and later on in the steam-ship division. He served as the personal secretary to Eomer Pasha, the commander of Ottoman forces during the Crimean War. Andon Pasha went on to become the Head of the Steamship Division, the Director of the Royal Navy and Director of the Foreign Languages Correspondence Office attached to the Ministry of War. In 1875 he became military commander for Rumelia receiving the rank of Beylerbeyi, (Ottoman Turkish for "Bey of Beys", meaning "Commander of Commanders") and was bestowed with the title of Pasha.

            Hovsep Pasha Vartanian served in the Ottoman Naval Ministry for 25 years. During the 1853-1856 Crimean War he served as the First Translator attached to the Ottoman Navy and was granted the title of Pasha. Toros Bey Gisak was also an official in the Ottoman military fleet with the rank of colonel.

            Garabet Artin Pasha Tavutian and Hovhannes Pasha Kuyumdjian, Armenian governors from Lebanon, held the rank of Marshal. Before assuming the office of governor of Lebanon they held diplomatic posts and didn’t have any military titles. Perhaps it was an important condition for governors of Lebanon to have a military rank especially given the fact that this region was the site of interracial warfare.

            Another Armenian serving in the Ottoman Army with the rank of Marshal was Ferdi Pasha Terjimanian, the Chief Pharmacist of the overall Ottoman Army.

            The Issue of Armenian Military Conscription

            There have been singular exceptions and cases during the history of Armenian-Turkish relations when the ottoman authorities have requested military help from the Armenians. During the Jelali Rebellions, when Deli Hasan attacked Sepastia in 1600, the local governing Pasha was forced to arm the residents of the city, including Armenians, due to a lack of regular army troops.

            In 1847 were called to military service when Ottoman forces were battling against rebellious Kurdish chieftains in the eastern provinces.

            Having suffered heavy losses in 1877 during the Russo-Turkish War, the Ottoman government felt the need to conscript its Christian subjects into the army and called on their religious patriarchates for assistance. The overwhelming majority of those attending the Armenian National Assembly in Constantinople on December 14, 1877 rejected the government’s plea.

            After the 1908 declaration reinstating the Ottoman Constitution, Armenians along with other Christian subjects made demands in the Ottoman Parliament to be conscripted in the army and to be given equal rights in the service of the army. Conservative elements with the Armenian community were against conscription while the young strata were for the idea. According to a law passed in the Ottoman Parliament in 1910 all subject peoples in the Empire were subject to military service. When the declaration for a military draft was published in August and September of 1910 the Armenian youth greeted it with great enthusiasm since it lifted from their shoulders the psychological burden of being a captive, raya (cattle) and subjects.

            The military field opened up for the Armenians. Taking advantage of the possibilities, Armenian youth began studying at the Harbiye imperial military academy and quickly proved themselves in various military sectors. Greatly appreciating the orderliness, loyalty and cleanliness of the Armenians, the Turkish officers began substituting their Turkish troops with Armenians. Many of these soldiers quickly rose up in the ranks. Armenian soldiers performed many acts of bravery both during the Ballkan War and the First World War and were praised by top Turkish military officers, thus proving that Armenians weren’t only skilled merchants and craftsmen but courageous soldiers as well.

            At the outbreak of World War I some 60,000 Armenians between the ages of 18-45 were conscripted into the Ottoman Army. They joined the ranks of Armenians already in army service. Despite the harsh conditions awaiting them in the army, Armenians were quick to fulfill their duties with such devotion that they saved Enver Pasha from being taken prisoner on the Garin front. Enver in turn sent a message praising and thanking the Armenian troops to Zaven Der-Yeghiaian, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople.

            On the other hand, starting from the first days of the war false rumors started to spread regarding Armenian soldiers deserting the army. This was just a pretext for the implementation of the premeditated plan of the Young Turks for the extermination of the Armenians. On February 12, 1915 the disarming of Armenian soldiers began and these troops were soon organized into work battalions. At the same time Armenian officers were being isolated and arrested. What followed was the directive of Enver Pasha, Minister of War, to exterminate all Armenian soldiers in the army. More than 60,000 Armenian soldiers were brutally killed on the rear lines.

            Many Armenian military doctors also fell on the battlefield when serving in field hospitals. Many also perished after treating Turkish soldiers who had contracted typhus. Then too, many were slaughtered simply for being Armenian. Also arrested on the evening of April 24, 1915 was the poet and prose write Ruben Sevak who also served as a military doctor with the rank of captain at the Makrigyugh military hospital. He shared the same fate of the other Armenian intellectuals destined to be brutally slaughtered in the interiors of Anatolia.

            By thus destroying the fighting potential of the western Armenians the Turkish government set about to implement its predetermined plan to exterminate its Armenian populace.

            This is how the Turks repaid the Armenians for their centuries of diligent service in strengthening the Ottoman Army. They also continued to express their “thanks” by erasing Armenians from the Ottoman military history books and by claiming that only Turks and other Muslim peoples shed blood for the Ottoman Empire and that Christians, Armenians included, were able to prosper and develop given that they were exempt from military service. However the irrefutable historical facts show that for centuries on end Armenians, whether serving as soldiers, doctors, craftsmen, suppliers and officials, were a constant presence in the Ottoman Army and significantly contributed to its becoming a major world force.

            See also photos: Armenians in the Ottoman Army

            General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


            • #16

              An excellent article!
              General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


              • #17
                Re: Devshirme

                Originally posted by bell-the-cat View Post
                1/ Slavery was non-existant in Europe during the Middle-Ages and Renaissance periods,
                2/ whereas it flourished throughout the Islamic world during the same period. Slavery in European colonies lasted for an extremely short period of time,
                3/ and was halted at the initiative of European Powers,
                4/but the total numbered hundreds of millions.
                2/ It is true. But at least according to the Coran, they could (theorically) buy their freedom. Slaves in islam were more part of the family as servants meanwhile in west Indies and in the Americas slaves were used as means of work (in plantations, in sugar cane refineries, in ascieries, in building railroads, etc., etc.)
                3/ Slavery was stopped in America not because of only kind hearts of abolutionnists, but economically it was no longer efficient to have them all year long.
                4/ Nowadays African Historians and resarchers are working with African American and Carabeean Historians to amount the millions of victims of slave trade.

                But I insist : Devshirme was much less crual than slavery perpatrated by Europeans and Americans.