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We’ll always have Sicily II, the Cathedral of Monreale

22 Sep

The Cathedral of Monreale (See also: We’ll always have Sicily: the church of the Martorana in Palermo)

And, of course, as per millenial-cum-major-victim, Ayesha Siddiqui

“…unless you’ve had 90% of your cultural and artistic heritage — the product of what was one of the main poles of human civilization for two millenia — destroyed and lost, with the remnants still being vigorously vandalized today, in 2020 AD, “I don’t think I can really be that close to you.”

We’ll always have Sicily: the church of the Martorana in Palermo — the art of our ancestors safe from the plaster, whitewash, eye-gouging — and drapes — of the hysterics and puritans of monotheism…

21 Sep
Church of the Martorana12th century

The Normans weren’t exactly our best friends once they embarked on their conquests and rise to power in the Mediterranean. But when they had settled in, they started developing certain Mediterranean civilized habits that almost no one who comes to this part of the world is immune to.

For example, when they wanted something beautiful built and decorated they knew where to place the want ad: either C-Town or among the Greeks who already inhabited Sicily and parts of the Italian south. And, after the Normans, the Angevins, Aragonese, Bourbons, Piemontesi, and, finally, the republic of Italy, kept it all safe.

Mostly people think Ravenna when they think of things Byzantine in Italy. But no part of Italy is as laden with high Byzantine beauty as Sicily is. And the church of the Martorana may be the single most important site for in situ Byzantine art in the world. Read about it. It’s really fascinating. Not least for “belonging” to the Albanian-Italian community of Sicily:

The church is a Co-cathedral to the Eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi[1] of the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church, a diocese which includes the Italo-Albanian (Arbëreshë) communities in Sicily who officiate the liturgy according to the Byzantine Rite in the ancient Greek language and Albanian language[2] The Church bears witness to the Eastern religious and artistic culture still present in Italy today, further contributed to by the Albanian exiles who took refuge in southern Italy and Sicily from the 15th century under the pressure of TurkishOttoman persecutions in Albania and the Balkans.

[Otherwise, of course, “there is no compulsion in religion.” me, NB, my emphasis above as well]

Here are some photos I put together:

And, of course, as per my chum Ayesha Siddiqui, unless you’ve had 90% of your cultural and artistic heritage — the product of what was one of the main poles of human civilization for two millenia — destroyed and lost, with the remnants still being vigorously vandalized today, in 2020 AD, “I don’t think I can really be that close to you.”

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Write us: with comments or observations, or to be put on our mailing list or to be taken off our mailing list, contact us at nikobakos@gmail.com.

Iason Athanasiadis: from Karatepe in Mytilene

21 Sep
For full size see Athansiadis’ Facebook page:

Trying to fly but the walls are too high: The new camp the Greek government assembled in seven days on Lesvos, following the burning of Moria, has no services (or running water, electricity, showers or WiFi) is lashed by gale-strong winds, waves and dust as early as September, and is likely to be a closed detention center, so in almost every way it will be worse than the camp that some of the migrants are believed to have burned down in order to escape. I even came across some Afghans over the past few days who had got used to Moria and didn’t find it quite as Dickensianly horrid as the media describe it. One 26-year-old lady whom I met today picking her way through the cinders in search of her kids’ toys, told me she has happy memories of giving birth to her third child there.

Oh, a few hours after a press tour today organized by the Ministry of Migration, I was called up by the press person and scolded for having spoken to residents. “The rules I laid out were extremely clear,” he told me, “No talking to migrants.”

“Why, I didn’t realise we’d visited Auschwitz today,” my friend sitting across the table said, when I put down the phone and retold the conversation.

Also see the other fascinating Facebook page that Athanasiadis manages, if I’m correct: The Cities We Lost, a page that documents every aspect of the lost cosmopolitan urban centers of the Mediterranean.

Flamenco: sometimes “I can’t get enough” of something because it’s just so awful (even with a goddess like Estrella Morente); the limits of fusion; Andalucía to the Caribbean, ida y vuelta, or allez-retour; Spanish casticismo and crappy Greek reality TV

20 Sep

You know, you can’t just throw together anything you feel like…like, I dunno, the Pennsylvania polka with polyphonic southern Albanian orchestration or background singers, and call it music. There’s a great Greek expression for what would result: “May God call that [whatever] …” music, in this case; то есть, only God can give this thing the existential status it’s claiming for itself.

Fusion happens organically. Egyptian pop has a çifteteli rhythm Greeks like, and slowly Greek pop develops a whole genre that is heavily Egyptian sounding. Klezmer musicians, especially Romanian and Moldavian ones, heard Greek Balkan tunes in Bucharest and Constanța and Istanbul and incorporated them into their repertoire. Serbs are attracted to Greek music, to its tone and melodies and especially to its affective nature, so lots of the new starogradska music (which literally means “old city” music, meaning popular, but urban, not folk, like Greek λαϊκά) develops a deep Greek vibe. Greeks loved Bollywood in the 50s, so a whole genre (one railed against by many, including Tsitsanes, which is why I can’t forgive him), of some really beautiful music, developed out of some plain rip-offs, and some imaginative reworking, of the Indian material that Greeks liked in their movies.

I’ll soon bring you examples of all of the above. My point is simply that these intermeldings happen organically and if they’re forced, consciously and stupidly, the product kinna sucks.

I’m sure the intentions of the Khoury Projectfour Palestinian brothers from Jordan, with a last name that probably indicates Christian (“Khoury” means priest in Levantine Arabic) — are good…oh, Lord, please don’t let them be misunderstood. But the result is atrocious. It’s a little bit classical Um Kalsoum Arab suite, a little bit Balkan brass band or tamburaša, a little bit demek jazz improv’ — and it’s all made worse by the lust for speeeeeeeeeed our civilization suffers from, to cover up for lack of art, because form is sacrificed on the altar of cheap excitement, till form becomes illegible, rhythm becomes unfollowable, and melody disappears…and it all turns into a dog whistle that we can’t even hear.

Everything is like coked-up Bregović.

And what did that poor kanun do to this dude, that he’s banging away at it like it’s a heavy metal drum set, or like he’s hoping to snap a few of its strings?

Ok, there is one cool idea they’re working with, and that’s in the title: “RUMBA”. It’s not a ton of people who know that, but the musical and other cultural influences that Spain, especially Andalucía, sent to the Caribbean, were matched by the musical influences that the Caribbean, especially, of course, that heavenly font of music, Cuba, sent back to Spain. (You can probably trace the popular music of the whole twentieth-century world to either this one island of ten million people or the Mississippi Delta…or to the West Africa that both sprouted from.) Rumba, for example, is a flamenco genre, as is tango, though they don’t much look like their Latin American namesakes in their Andalusian gypsy forms (Morente gives us a moment of Cuban/Andalusian “rumba” dance moves at 6:56). But sevillanas and bulerías also have rhythmic structures and verbal phrasing and dance moves that have earlier Cuban antecedents.

The reason most people don’t know this is because there’s no more cliché-bound human than the modern tourist. And the academic tourist, who you think would have more outré interests to pursue when he travels, is often the worst of all. So as far as Spain goes, they’ll go to Barcelona, because it’s just such a “hip,” “cosmopolitan” Mediterranean (Christ, sometimes I hate that word) city, and skip the edgier, scruffy, by far more involving urban vibe of Madrid.* And if they’re under 35 they’ll go to Ibiza; over 35 will go to Mallorca. The MESA or other academic folk won’t go to either (if they want beach action they’ll come to one of our more remote Cyclades); rather, after Barcelona, they’ll do the Glories of Al-Andalus tour of Córdoba and Granada and then hightail it back home.

And you can’t get a full picture of flamenco in any of those places. Yes, there’s clearly a gypsy community in Granada that has created its own sound (including Estrella Morente and the whole Morente clan). But “gypsiness” and flamenco are to be truly appreciated in lower Andalusia, the flat river-delta of the Guadalquivir (the al-wādī l-kabīr in Arabic, the “great river”, like the kabir in this blogs’ name.) The great (or “kabir”) flamenco palos or genres, the great flamenco singers and guitarists, are almost all from the Gypsy barrios of Seville, Jerez, Cádiz, Sanlúcar, Puerto de Santa María, or the large village/towns of the region, like Osuna, Écija, Carmona, Utrera. This was not just the entry point for Spanish contact with its American colonies; it was the region that soon after the Reconquista came to be made up of large estates, latifundia, and a large rural proletariat that worked those estates and a large urban proletariat that lived in semi-employed poverty. Unfortunately, this was the pattern that Spain exported to not just its American colonies, but to southern Italy and Sicily during the centuries that it ruled those lands. What’s so fascinating about Naples and Palermo (like, of course, Seville) is that they were the first large, third-world cities of European modernity, overgrown, over-densely populated, surrounded by a countryside where land ownership was wildly unbalanced, cities of fabulous wealth and a dispossessed urban proletariat that still characterizes the modern and post-modern megalopolis — from Bombay to New York.

The Guadalquivir

Unfortunately or not, the pressure-cooker of urban poverty seems to be the petri dish of fantastic music: whether it’s Havana or Seville or Naples or New Orleans or New York and Chicago or Smyrna or Piraeus. We owe it to the creators of this music, and their suffering, to not mangle it the way the Khoury Project has done in this and in many other videos of theirs.

That’s why I’m bringing you more than just one of the original versions of the Cuban classics that Morente and the Khoury project butcher beyond recognition. Take the time to listen to both: the several original versions and the shameless interpretations the new fusion versions bring.

At 6:15, Morente sings the historic Cuban song “Songoro Cosongo”. This was a “son”, an Afro genre from eastern Cuba that, in the early twentieth century, became the more or less national dance (out of which the mambo and then salsa grew) replacing, even in polite society, the danzón. The lyrics are not original “Afro”; they’re Art-Afro, from the Black Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén — y de allí you get into all kinds of questions of authenticity that basically lead you nowhere. What’s important is that this first version was sung by the Septeto Nacional, which was the first group of Black musicians who were allowed to play in the Havana Tennis Club in the 1920s, marking the entry of Blacker music into the social mainstream of Cuban life (or maybe that was the Sexteto Habanero?). Here’s the original version. For Colombians, forget the baldosa please and watch the first part of the video and incorporate some movement into the dance; drop the screwdriver step.

And here’s Hector Lavoe’s 1970s big band sound, salsa version:

The other Cuban/PR classic that the Khoury Project and Morente make kokoretsi out of (at 7:10) is the piece known alternately as “Mandinga” or “Bilongo” or “La Negra Tomasa”.

Here’s a Cuban έντεχνο version from pianist Rubén González of the Buena Vista Social Club:

And here’s the truly breathtaking salsa version, again from the 70s, of Eddie Palmieri, with singer Ismael Quintana: “Kikidi-boom, Mandinga, Kikidi-boom Mandinga….”

Y aquí la tienen, la Negra Tomasa:

La Negra Tomasa, like Mamá Inés (“ay Mamá Inés, ay Mamá Inés, todo’ lo’ negro’ tomamo’ café.”) It’s amazing how powerfully Pan-American this archetype of the Black woman is: Mamá Inés, La Negra Tomasa, Aunt Jemima, the Black woman who, despite the misery and servitude of her existence, still feels and expresses genuine love for those she has to care for. Here’s the scene from Gone with the Wind where Hattie McDaniel gave the performance that garnered her the first Oscar to go to a Black woman:

Ok…

And back to Estrella Morente’s outta space performance. I don’t want to sound like one of the judges on #MyStyleRocksGR (though I’d like to have a drink with Stelio Koudounare — below)** but, Estrella, you’re a magnificent woman. But you’re also a modest Gypsy girl. Don’t wear a strapless dress that you’re constantly tugging up for fear it’ll fall off and reveal your ample bosom. It cramps your style, especially for a number as fast this “Rumba”.

(There’s something that’s so interesting about the semiotics of Gypsy and flamenco sexuality, a really interesting interaction between the revealing and openly erotic and the puritanical and covered up — that’s maybe a real remnant Indian cultural trait. We had a long-time Gypsy tenant, Mandy, who rented a commercial space in a building we owned in Manhattan for her Tarot-reading business; how they made the rent for a midtown Manhattan space offa Tarot readings is anyone’s guess. And whenever I dropped by at that time of the month, she was always dressed kind of like Lola Flores in this video below of commercial, movie, kitschy but beautiful copla-flamenco [look up “copla”; it’s a critical bridge between flamenco and other Spanish popular music]:

A tight top, but with straps — please — and an ankle-length skirt, tight around the hips and flaring out from the knees, like Gypsy women all over the world wear. The use of the skirt in flamenco dance, the flipping and turning around, the gathering up of its ample folds and ruffles and waving them back and forth or stuffing them between the legs, almost up into the crotch…all of those moves become especially powerful because revealing of the lower body seems so taboo. Not to mention the similarities between the prop manipulation of the long skirt in flamenco and that of the cape in the corrida, or bullfight.)

всё…

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* There’s a wonderful expression in Spanish: “De Madrid no se ve el mar.” — “From Madrid you can’t see the sea” which condenses the whole personality of the city. Madrid is really nowhere. It doesn’t occupy a strategic position, like the older cities of old Castille. It’s not on an important navigable river. The weather sucks: the famous “nine months of winter and three months of hell” (“nueve meses de invierno y tres de infierno”), though I love the cold, sunny weather of a Castillian winter (“colder than a Lutheran” says one character in the film version of Alatriste), and the food is perfect for the climate. It was simply built by royal fiat as a court and imperial capital in the early 16th century because there was an old, Moorish town there in the geographic center of Iberia, on the high, arid and underpopulated central plateau, or meseta, of Spain.

And yet this isolated city — from where “you can’t see the sea” — in the middle of nowhere became the sophisticated, highly cultured and rich capital of a massive empire. The contradiction is that it couldn’t ever really evade or deny its roots. Madrid remained and remains a deeply castizo city. “Casticismo” is a complicated term that means “pure”, “[Spanishly] authentic”, “native”, “conservative” and even a solid melding of all of those together won’t give you the precise sense of the word. Casticismo is what makes Spain Spain. I’m tempted to find Greek analogies and thought that it might be Romiosyne as in versus Hellenismos. But no…

When you’re in a bar somewhere in the center of Madrid in July, and there’s a cold, sweaty caña, or half-pint, of beer and an equally sweaty few slices of ham in front of you, when there’re dirty paper napkins or toothpicks (or there used to be; this custom has sort of fallen out of style) or peanut shells on the floor (the more garbage there was piled up on the floor, the more it signalled to potential customers that, “oh, this is a fun bar that people like…let’s drop in here”) and you’re packed in with super-friendly, inquisitive Spaniards speaking at a totally unnecessary decibel level…and it’s only 11:00 am — well, that’s the right time to get a feel for casticismo, even if it’s just a sensory feel that you can’t express discursively.

And that’s kind of the essence of Madrid, a liberal, tolerant, mad creative, open place that’s still closed and stubbornly archaic and even anarchic: even cañí (tacky) or hortero (red-necky, rough, kitschy, or vulgar). As opposed to the dizque sophisticated-acting, cosmopolitan but actually staid bourgeois air of Barcelona, Madrid is more a microcosm of Spain: one of the West’s and Europe’s most progressive, advanced in every way, societies, that’s simultaneously not part of the West or Europe at all, but a wild, limit-pushing land that is something totally itself, where the grappling between the “raw” and the “cooked” is as interesting and powerful as anywhere.

The go-to book on casticismo is by my saint-hero-philosopher Miguel de Unamuno who wrote it in the early 20th century, when the question of identity — especially after the disastrous Spanish-American War of 1898 when Spain lost its last colonies to the United States — and how Spain needed to generate some kind of new dialectic between its “deep” identity and the modernity it had to face was a red hot, controversial issue. As a Basque, he had a particular insider-and-outsider take on Spain and if you read Spanish or can find an English translation — which I’m not sure there is — it should be on your reading list before your next visit there.

En torno al casticismo (“Regarding casticismo”)

Miguel de Unamuno 1929

** Yes, don’t ask, I’ve totally regressed:

Stelios Koudounares, Greek fashion designer and guest judge on #MyStyleRocksGR

I’ve never been even remotely interested in fashion. I mean, I like to know that what I’m wearing looks ok, but in terms of high-end, concept fashion that nobody really wears…nothing’s ever bored me more. So don’t ask why I’ve gotten hooked, and on a daily basis, to #MyStyleRocksGR. Yeah, I like Stelio, but it’s basically because the judges and contestants on the show are all having so much fun…and when it’s mean it’s because there’s some serious Greek shade being thrown around that, ultimately, no one takes seriously. Any way, I’m addicted.

Next: between occasional blogging and working on my translation of Polites’ Stou Hadjifrangou, I’ve also gotten addicted to reality show #BigBrotherGR. (Owning up: I was addicted to Jersey Shore too.) The other night I sat transfixed through three-and-a-half hours of the special live Friday night broadcast they do, because I was afraid that my favorite room-mate, Demetres Kehagias (Δημήτρης Κεχαγιάς) below, was going to get booted off the show.

I don’t like Kehagia just ’cause he’s good-looking. I like him ’cause he’s echt-Greek/Rhomios. He’s always grouchy and irritated about something and someone and getting into fights with everyone around him, talks a mile a minute in thick Athenian attitude and intonation… And then suddenly becomes all loving and caring and sweet in a way that makes everyone around melt. Luckily he survived.

Here he is in rare form against his nemesis room-mate, the woman with the fried peroxide hair, Anna Maria from Chania (that’s just what they were missing on this show, a Cretan woman of a certain age with fried, peroxide hair…) Check them out in this video below; the fun starts at around 2:17. Yes, the two guys in the black t-shirts are identical twin brothers (makes for all kindsa nuttiness), Zac (Ζαχαρίας) in the Marine t-shirt says and does absolutely nothing in any episode except look pretty, and the zaftig chick in the fuchsia top with the fan, splendidly named Aphrodite!!! is the loving Big Mama that me and apparently all Big Brother addicts in Greece — so say the polls — adore, and she spends lots of her time trying to de-escalate arguments like these. Enjoy. This is a perfect Greek kavga, the Turkish word we use for pointless, steam-letting, “let’s-have-some-fun” arguing. I’m not going to translate or tell you what it’s about….because it doesn’t matter!!! It’s not about anything! They’re just arguing!

I started watching ΣΚΑΪ (SKY) because it’s the of right-of-center channel that still maintains (despite these trashy shows I’m into) some sense of cultural and social standards out of all Greek TV stations. And also because a right-of-center good friend of mine got voted in as MP in Greek Parliament this year and he appears as the go-to expert on Greece’s international relations — especially at a tight time in Greek-Turkish relations like now — on ΣΚΑΪ‘s news broadcasts. But then I get back to work and leave the television on with no sound. Explains how I got hooked on these shows.

Addendum: they’ve also been broadcasting American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace these past two weeks. It’s fascinating. Because it’s not about Versace almost at all. It’s about his tragically psychotic murderer, Andrew Cunanan. And it leaves you with the very disturbing sense that he wasn’t so distantly psychotic from the rest of us, that he just wanted what we all want, things just came together in a way that pushed him over the edge. It’s on Netflix; check it out.

Darren Kriss as Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace

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Cavafy: “Painted”

20 Sep

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

Την εργασία μου την προσέχω και την αγαπώ.
Μα της συνθέσεως μ’ αποθαρρύνει σήμερα η βραδύτης.
Η μέρα μ’ επηρέασε. Η μορφή της
όλο και σκοτεινιάζει. Όλο φυσά και βρέχει.
Πιότερο επιθυμώ να δω παρά να πω.
Στη ζωγραφιάν αυτή κυττάζω τώρα
ένα ωραίο αγόρι που σιμά στη βρύσι
επλάγιασεν, αφού θ’ απέκαμε να τρέχει.
Τι ωραίο παιδί· τι θείο μεσημέρι το έχει
παρμένο πια για να το αποκοιμίσει. —
Κάθομαι και κυττάζω έτσι πολλήν ώρα.
Και μες στην τέχνη πάλι, ξεκουράζομαι απ’ την δούλεψή της.

(translation comment: it’s a “spring”βρύσι — not a “fountain”. Fountain sounds built and marble and urban, as in Trevi… Spring better suits the pastoral, Arcadian setting that I think Cavafy’s mind has wandered into in this poem.)

Greek philosopher theologian Chrestos Giannaras: “If there were a politician with any vision, he would make Classical Greek part of the elementary school curriculum, like a game, and there would be music…

19 Sep

…lots and lots of music!”

Extensive and moving coverage on Ruth Bader Ginsburg from the Forward: check it out — sadness mixed with joy and pride in the Jewish ethical conscience she represented

19 Sep
Fast Forward Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Jewish and liberal icon, dead at 87 Talya Zax    



Opinion Former Forward editor, who interviewed Ginsburg in 2018, says she was the ‘apogee of Jewish achievement’ Jane Eisner    

News Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away. Here are some of our favorite Jewish stories from her life. Forward Staff    

Opinion The right way to mourn Ruth Bader Ginsburg Rob Eshman    

 

Fast Forward On Rosh Hashanah, Jews mourn the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg PJ Grisar    

News Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her own words: highlights from the Forward’s 2018 interview Forward Staff

If you die on Rosh Hashanah

19 Sep

“We’re off to see the Wizard…”

18 Sep
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a video conference with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.(Turkish Presidency via AP. Pool)

From the New York-based National Herald, oldest Greek-and-English language paper in the United States

Diplomacy? Erdogan Chides Greece for Being Childish

ANKARA — Reaching out to Greece for dialogue after he sent an energy ship and warships off the island of Kastellorizo, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threw a possible monkey wrench into the works when he accused Greece of “provocations and childish attitudes.”

Erdogan, whose rhetoric has grown more belligerent and alternated with offering to talk, said his country has always  acted with the “dignity of righteousness” and will continue to “defend its legitimate rights,” which could undercut any dialogue.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) said he made the comments while speaking at an event at the Bestepe National Congress and Culture Center in Ankara, where he also said that his government would “not allow anyone to confine Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean, to its coast.”

That was in reference to his open coveting of the return of Greek islands to Turkey ceded away in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne he doesn’t accept, saying some were so close to Turkey’s coast he could shout to them. 

Turkey has for now withdrawn its ships but said they would return after maintenance on the energy research vessel Oruc Reis as a Sept. 24-25 showdown meeting looms with the European Union.

Greek Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he wants hard and meaningful sanctions imposed for Turkey’s incursion and repeated violations of Greek airspace and waters if he can’t reach agreement with Erdogan before then.

Earlier, Erdogan ripped France, which is backing Greece in the East Mediterranean, asking whether asking whether it would return to “responsible policy” if Turkey backed down.

Speaking to members of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, the Turkish president also accused the EU of double standards,  the news agency report said, although Greece is a member of the bloc and Turkey isn’t. 

“Fear is growing among the Christian inhabitants of Iraqi Kurdistan along the border with Turkey…”

18 Sep

Iraqi Kurdistan: Christians hit by Turkish raids, at least 25 Christian villages emptied of people this year alone

September 16, 2020 Iraq

Persecution of Christians in Iraq: it has become increasingly clear that the Turkish government is furthering its longstanding persecution of Christians by means of its military actions against the Kurds. These actions, which have displaced 2,000 Christian families and emptied 25 Christian villages this year alone, are in keeping with its clear contempt for Christians and Christianity, as well as for Turkey’s rich Orthodox Christian heritage. These forced evacuations stem from the same beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that gave rise to the appropriation of Hagia Sophia and the Monastery of the Holy Savior in Chora as mosques, the ongoing discrimination against of and harassment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the remaining Christians of Turkey; the occupation and ethnic cleansing of northern Cyprus; the numerous restrictions placed upon the activities and rights of Christian and other religious minority groups; and much more.

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, once again appeals to the United Nations and all nations that are concerned about human rights to do all they can to protect the Christians of Syria and the Middle East in general, and to do all they can to bring an end to the unjust and illegal actions of the Turkish government.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Iraq, click here.

“Kurdistan, Christian villages hit by Turkish raids against the PKK (VIDEO),” Asia News, September 15, 2020:

Erbil (AsiaNews) – Fear is growing among the inhabitants, including Christians, of Iraqi Kurdistan along the border with Turkey, the scene of heavy attacks by Ankara’s air force against targets of the PKK (the Kurdish Workers’ Party) refugees in the villages of the province north of Duhok. Fr. Samir Youssef, pastor of the diocese of Amadiya says “for months they have bombed our mountains to kill PKK members or attack the Kurds, regardless of whether they carry weapons, food or anything else ”.

The parish priest of Enishke sys [sic] the violence has intensified in the last period, as evidenced by the video and the photos published: “In the last month – he explains – they have killed a lot of people, just because they were close to areas controlled by the PKK . In some cases, the bombings also hit the homes of the civilian population ”. Last week, the priest stresses, “they hit a car carrying aid near the Christian village of Araden”.

It should be noted that hundreds of Christians from Mosul and the Nineveh plain, who fled in 2014 following the rise of the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis) still live in the area today. Jihadists who, according to the accusations, often moved undisturbed and were helped by neighboring Turkey….

According to some local experts, relaunched by Christian organizations online and on social networks, among the most affected areas are the Christian villages of Chalik, Bersiveh and Sharanish. The objective of these military operations is to make the inhabitants flee from these areas, now almost deserted, in order to create Turkish bases from which to launch targeted ground operations against elements of the PKK. The bombings, a source concludes, are always followed by heavy fires that end up destroying all crops, homes and even cemeteries. Since the beginning of 2020, at least 25 Christian villages in northern Iraq have been emptied of their original population, with a scenario that recalls the years of tension and conflict between 1980 and 1990. 

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