Forced Conversion Video Sends Strong Message to Turkish Armenians

05/15/2019 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – A video has gone viral in Turkey in which Islamic theologian and TV personality Nihat Hatipoğlu leads a 13-year-old Armenian Christian boy in a conversion during Ramadan Iftar programming.

The video was broadcast live from Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, which is where Armenians were imprisoned during the 1915 genocide before being sent to their deaths. The square has become a central location for commemoration events on April 24 which remember the genocide.

Forced conversion was a prominent feature of the 1915 genocide, and the video brings many concerns. The parents were notably absent from the video. Furthermore, it is illegal to convert a child to Islam under the age of 18 without the presence of the parents. The parents say that they were not consulted and learned of the incident through television. They intend to file a criminal compliant that this incident was forced Islamization and is a type of child abuse.

The undertones of the video send a clear a message to the Armenian community that they are only welcome in society if they are Muslim. Armenian Christians are currently in a period of leadership transition that is regularly interfered with by the State, who also has a long history of forcing churches to take various actions under duress. Also, the constitution reinforces the concept of Turkishness, which includes an Islamic identity. Consequently, Armenian Christians are viewed as second-class citizens at best.

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