Friday, 24 March 2017

Armenian Institute... Book launch History of Armenian Cartography up to the year1918



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Armenian News... A Topalian... Patriarch speaks at Jesus tomb
Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem speaks at Jesus tomb reopening ceremony
22 Mar 2017 

An Armenian official delegation headed by Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian attended the reopening of the Jesus tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City. 

Attending the event were Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, high-ranking officials from other countries, Christian church leaders, thousands of pious people. 

Earlier the day Minister Nalbandian had visited the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem to meet with Patriarch, Archbishop Nurhan Manukian. 

Archbishop Nurhan Manukian delivered a speech at the ceremony along with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Greek Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos II. A message from His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, was read out. 

The tomb where Jesus is believed to have been buried was unveiled today following nine months of restoration. 

Three main Christian denominations – Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Churches – jealously guard separate sections of the church, but they put aside their longstanding religious rivalries to give their blessing for the restoration. Armenian architects were involved in reconstruction works.
With Rhinoplasty on the Rise, Whither the Armenian Nose?
Iris Molenaar
March 22 2017

The Armenian nose is a source of national pride, but Armenians – especially young women – are increasingly opting for rhinoplasty in an effort to conform to the idealized Western appearance. 

The Armenian nose is a source of national pride, sometimes said to be like the country’s impressive mountains: high, proud, and honest. 

But what looks good in a landscape painting does not necessarily meet today’s global beauty standards. And increasingly, Armenians – especially young women – are opting for rhinoplasty in an effort to conform to the idealized Western appearance. 

“As a country, we try to be Western, and this applies to the beauty standards, too,” said Kristina Grigoryan, who has practiced plastic surgery in Yerevan for 16 years. “We are still proud of being Armenians, but less proud of having such features.” 

Armenia does not keep national statistics on it, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the procedure is becoming more popular: Grigoryan’s clinic performs about 500 nose jobs a year, up from 150 to 200 five years ago, she said, and more and more clinics are offering the procedure. 

The Armenian nose may be ancient, but the Armenian nose job is a recent innovation. In the Soviet Union, plastic surgery was mostly restricted to reconstructive cases. The massive 1988 earthquake in Armenia boosted the demand for reconstructive plastic surgery, an expertise that doctors later took advantage of to go into the cosmetic surgery business. “This is how plastic surgery started to develop in Armenia,” said Karen Danielyan, a plastic surgeon in Yerevan. “And now rhinoplasty is the most popular and most common plastic surgery in Armenia – three out of four operations are rhinoplasties.” 

Danielyan is one of the pioneers of rhinoplasty in Armenia: in 2002, he started the “Most Armenian Nose” competition, with the first prize being a free nose job by the doctor himself. Back then, he said, the contest was a publicity stunt to drum up business. Now, it is no longer necessary to create awareness of the procedure. He estimates that he does about 1,500 rhinoplasties per year, but the number is closely dependent on the cyclical nature of the economy. 

“If the [economic] situation is bad, there are fewer operations; if the situation is good, there are many more operations,” he said. The recent economic downturn has hurt, he said, “Now is not a good time for Armenia. The economic situation is not very good, so not many people have operations.” 

But it is not only Armenian citizens who get nose jobs in Armenia. A developed infrastructure and low costs (when compared to the West) have facilitated a medical tourism boom, one driven mainly by demand for plastic surgery. Raffi Elliott, CEO and co-founder of a medical package tour company, said that his clientele among the Armenian Diaspora is disproportionately coming to get rhinoplasties. 

For a nation with a strong sense of pride and national identity, the trend to make the “Armenian nose” look less Armenian can seem contradictory. Danielyan, who sports a humble nose himself, says that these days people are more looking to get noses that suit their faces, rather than simply copying the popular small, curved, Slavic noses. However, he does continue to get many requests to recreate Angelina Jolie’s nose, the most popular celebrity example when it comes to rhinoplasty. 

With nose surgeries becoming more accessible, accepted, and popular, is there a danger of the “Armenian nose” disappearing? Danielyan laughed and recalled a question he got from one of his patients: “If I get my nose fixed, will my child get my new nose?” 

A rhinoplasty does nothing to the genes, of course, so the characteristics are not likely to change, he explained. 

Elliott, the medical tourism entrepreneur, also expressed his respect for the emblematic feature: “I like the Armenian nose. It gives character.” 

And some Armenian women are bucking the trend: one pop singer, Silva Hakobyan, has shot down tabloid rumors that she plans to reduce her quintessentially Armenian nose, and says she is proud of her natural features. 

Many women still worry that typically Armenian features may damage one’s marriage prospects, Danielyan said, noting that the most common rationale stated by his patients is the wish to find a partner. “If you have a big nose, you won’t get married, and if you don’t marry, it’s not good,” he said. 

Rouben Abrahamyan, the winner of the inaugural Most Armenian Nose competition – and its only male entrant – says he still feels bad for his runner up. “She was very beautiful, but her big nose damaged her appearance,” said Abrahamyan, a journalist and university lecturer in Yerevan. He entered the contest because he had an injury to his nose that caused difficulty breathing, and is glad to have that cleared up. Still, he said, “I felt like changing places with her so that she could have a better nose. In my case, it was just a medical treatment, but she would look better with a smaller nose.” 

[internal Turkish politics appears to be interfering with justice]

Anadolu Agency (AA)
March 21, 2017
Istanbul prosecutor links Gulen to 2007 murder

An Istanbul prosecutor on Tuesday requested an arrest warrant for
U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen in connection with the 2007 killing of a
prominent Armenian-Turkish journalist, a legal source said.

Gulen and other suspects linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization
(FETO) were named by Gokalp Kokcu, a counter-terrorism prosecutor, as
being involved in the shooting of Hrant Dink, the source said on
condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

FETO is said to have orchestrated last July’s attempted coup that left
249 people dead.

Among those named alongside Gulen, who Ankara is attempting to
extradite from the U.S. over his alleged role in the coup bid, were
former prosecutor Zekeriya Oz, former Zaman editor-in-chief Ekrem
Dumanli, journalists Faruk Mercan and Adem Yavuz Arslan and lawyer
Halil Ibrahim Koca.

Dink was killed in front of his office in Istanbul in January 2007. He
was one of the founders of the bilingual Armenian-Turkish newspaper

His murder sparked widespread protests and led to speculation about
the involvement of far-right groups amid claims of a cover-up.

Ogun Samast was jailed for 23 years in 2011 for the killing. Samast,
who was aged 17 at the time of the shooting, claimed he killed Dink
for “insulting Turkishness”.

Reporting by Murat Kaya; Writing by Sibel Ugurlu
Armenia’s Parliament Has Handed Over Its Legislative Function to Government, Report Says
March 21, 2017| 

Armenia’s fifth convocation National Assembly almost completely handed over its main legislative function to the Government; it also failed to implement its function of overseeing the operations of other state institutions. In the past 5 years, 92% of the 1078 adopted laws were government-initiated, while the NA only voted to pass them, according to the final report by the Parliament Monitoring project.

Lusine Vasilyan, in charge of the project, said during the presentation of the report that the weakening role of the parliament as a legislative body is also evidenced by the fact that exactly half of the laws were passed in extraordinary sessions convened by the government. “If in case with the parliament of the fourth convocation there were 196 special order bills, in the fifth one there were 645 – four times more,” Vasilyan stated.

According to the project manager, at extraordinary sessions, the parliament does not tend to comprehensively discuss the government-initiated bills but passes them as quickly as possible within 24 hours. At the same time, bills introduced by opposition forces often do not get discussed at all: the fifth convocation refused to include 58 opposition-initiated bills in its agenda.

The adopted laws, Vasilyan went on, mainly concerned the state-legal and administrative fields; the Code on Administrative Offences, for instance, was changed 40 times; “It is noteworthy that the laws that underwent insignificant changes coincide with the fields that the government considers a priority. The law on foreign investment, for example, was last changed 10 years ago.”

According to Gor Abrahamyan, an expert with the NA Monitoring project, the parliament also did not exercise its control function; “The NA failed to discuss the Control Chamber activity programs in due time. Which is even more absurd, the parliament did not hold any discussions on the General Prosecutor’s and the Human Rights Ombudsman’s 2016 reports.”

Erdogan Imposes Favorite Candidate on Istanbul Patriarchate
Mirror Spectator
Editorial 3-25 March 2017
By Edmond Y. Azadian 

Byzantine laws in Turkey have contributed to the delays and complications in the election of a new patriarch in Istanbul. For nine years, the authorities have given the runaround to the lay and spiritual leadership of the community and at every stage have further complicated the process.

Archbishop Aram Ateshyan has time and again proven his loyalty to Turkey’s rulers to the detriment of his spiritual obligations to his flock. That is why the authorities rewarded him by extending artificially his rule at the Patriarchate, in the meantime using him as a political tool. He has been used on many occasions as the voice of the Armenian community in support of the government’s anti-Armenian stance. His rush to apologize for the German parliament’s resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide discredited him as a religious leader of the community, but endeared him to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s circle.

The tenuous situation in the community, however, could not last forever, as Archbishop Ateshyan abused his position and resorted to various ruses to emerge as the sole candidate for the office of Patriarch which had been vacant for the last nine years, since the incapacitation of Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan.

The situation came to a boil when an open row developed between Ateshyan and Bishop Sahak Mashalyan, president of the Clergy Council and a potential candidate in the election. That clash took place on February 16 and it shook the entire community.

After long deliberation amongst the community leaderships, it was decided to send both candidates to Holy Echmiadzin and defuse the situation through the mediation of Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II. The two men were later joined by Archbishop Karekin Bekjian, Primate of Germany, and Archbishop Sebouh Chouljian, Primate of Gougark in Armenia, who also submitted their names for the position.

A deal was struck at Echmiadzin creating a process to hold an election of a Locum Tenens (deghabah) at which time, Archbishop Ateshyan would resign from his position as vicar (patriarchal deputy) and the elected locum tenens would conduct the process of electing the Patriarch.

In the meantime, an electoral committee would be selected and an election request date would be submitted to the authorities. That date was tentatively set for May 29, 2017.

The election of the locum tenens is the prerogative of the Clergy Council.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Chouljian was eliminated from the race and Bishop Mashalyan withdrew his candidacy in favor of Archbishop Bekjian. Therefore, the contest became a race between Bekjian and Ateshyan.

In view of the fact that the members of the Clergy Council are beholden to Ateshyan for their livelihoods and the latter is the perceived favorite of the authorities, it was a foregone conclusion that he would emerge as the victor.

The election took place on March 15 and out of 34 votes, Bekjian astonishingly received 24 while Ateshyan received 11.

The courage and independence of the members of the Clergy Council were celebrated and all the participants, including Ateshyan himself, congratulated Archbishop Bekjian for his election.

The drama began when Ateshyan literally pulled a trick out of thin air. After the election, he returned to his office and emerged with a letter signed by Deputy Mayor of Istanbul Aziz Merjan, stating that holding an election at that date was not permitted. It was “illegal” yet no specific law was cited in support of the decision.

At the conclusion of the election, the entire community had expressed a sigh of relief that the controversies were left behind and a peaceful election process was unfolding.

Mr. Merjan’s letter cynically alluded that the election may repeat the turmoil created on February 16 and the annulment of the election would contribute to calm, especially when the community already had a spiritual leader in the person of Archbishop Ateshyan.

Although people are very cautious in their expressions under Erdogan’s dictatorship, Bishop Mashalyan blew his top by announcing that the election is the prerogative of the Clergy Council and the government has no right to intrude.

That was the general sentiment of the community, except of some of the more docile leaders, one of them being Bedros Sirinoglu, president of the Holy Cross Hospital and head of the VADIP (group of charitable and religious organizations).

Instead of blaming the government’s crude interference in the community’s religious affairs, Siringolu, in his immense wisdom, has blamed the community for not having patience for a few more months, forgetting clearly that the community has been enduring for nine years the government intrigues with respect to Armenian spiritual matters in Istanbul. He also betrayed the real truth in this charade by making the following statement: “I don’t express myself on behalf of Ateshyan nor Bekjian, but if the election had taken place between three candidates, Ateshyan would be the winner. Had Ateshyan won, the government’s letter could not have been issued.”

The leadership of the community has decided to seek an appointment with the governor of Istanbul for an explanation. While refusing to resign, Ateshyan has cynically agreed to accompany Mashalyan to the governor’s office, if and when an appointment is granted. He is already certainly aware what kind of “explanation” the governor has in store.

For all practical purposes, the governor will delay that appointment forever to extend Ateshyan’s tenure, until the community is exhausted and is ready to heed the “wisdom” of leaders such as Sirinoglu, advising them to acquiesce to the government’s dictate.

Archbishop Bekjian has emerged as a courageous leader. He had announced that he would visit Germany for a few days to take care of some urgent business and return to Istanbul to assume his responsibilities as locum tenens. That is, of course, if the authorities do not detain or deport him.

This interference in the community’s religious affairs opens a Pandora’s box, especially at this juncture, when Turkey can ill afford more adverse publicity.

By waging a war of words against the major European countries, President Erdogan has become a pariah among world leaders. As if his challenge to Europe were not enough, he is also trying to provoke Russia by closing the Straits to the Russian merchant marine, in clear violation of the Treaty of Montreux of 1936.

The Turkish government’s intrusion in the community’s religious affairs also contravenes the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, whereby Turkey must guarantee the freedom of minorities. Article 40 of the above treaty specifically stipulated that they have [non-Muslims, Armenians] “equal rights to establish, manage and control, at their own expense, any charitable, religious and social institutions, any schools and other establishments of training instruction and education, with the right to use their own language and practice their own religion freely.”

Turkey has been intervening in Cyprus and occupying one third of that country under the pretext of defending fellow Turks. It has also sent troops to Iraq, despite the vociferous protests of its government, supposedly to protect Turkomans.

If there is such an international law to protect fellow nations, then Armenia must take advantage of it, too. Realistically, Armenia cannot send troops to Turkey because it is no match for Turkey but at least it can raise its voice at international quarters, such as the United Nations, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Union.

In addition, the issue, related to religious freedom, Echmiadzin can appeal to the Vatican, the World Council of Churches and other religious centers.

Also, other groups in the diaspora can and must raise their voices.

Now that Turkey has demonstrated its truce face, our appeals will certainly resonate further in various world quarters.

Erdogan’s diktat is not directed only at the Istanbul Armenians. It is a challenge to Armenians around the world.

The Washington Post
Hollywood takes on a tragedy of history
Vanessa H. Larson
M`rich 19 207  
Charlotte Le Bon stars as an Armenian woman raised in France, and Christian Bale as an outspoken American journalist in “The Promise.” (Jose Haro/Open Road Films)

Turks and Armenians have been in a bitter, long-running dispute over the deaths of more than 1 million Armenians during World War I in the Ottoman Empire. Armenians call it a genocide; the Turkish government says the killings were not systematic, occurring in the midst of war.

Now, the dispute has come to Hollywood. Two films this spring feature an intense love triangle that unfolds in this historic setting - but their political agendas are vastly different.

"The Promise," opening nationwide April 21, is the first major Hollywood movie to portray what a consensus of historians calls the Armenian genocide, which involved forced-march deportations and mass killings over several years starting in 1915.

Oscar Isaac plays a young Armenian man who moves from his small village to Istanbul in 1914 to study medicine. There, as the predominantly Muslim Ottoman Empire enters the war on the side of Germany and turns on its own minority Christian Armenian population, he meets and falls in love with an Armenian woman raised in France (Charlotte Le Bon of "The Walk"), who is romantically involved with an outspoken American correspondent for the Associated Press (Christian Bale).

Talaat Pasha, considered the mastermind behind the killings, is one of the real-life figures in the film, which spares none of the Turkish atrocities against the Armenians, from the brutal labor camps for young men to the massacres of women, children and the elderly.

Though "The Ottoman Lieutenant" appears similar on the surface, it offers a very different interpretation of history. The film - which opened March 10 with a limited release - tells the fictional story of a headstrong American nurse (Icelandic actress Hera Hilmar) who travels to eastern Anatolia (now Turkey) to work at an American Mission Hospital. During the war, she is pulled between two men seeking her affections: an American doctor (Josh Hartnett) and a Muslim Ottoman lieutenant (Michiel Huisman of "Game of Thrones").

The film takes an approach similar to the position of the Turkish government, which has long held that there was no state-organized policy of ethnic cleansing against Armenians. Rather, Turkey insists, during the fighting on the Ottoman Empire's eastern front against the Russians, Turkish and Armenian civilians alike died in the course of wartime violence.

Taner Akcam of Clark University, one of the few historians from Turkey to recognize the events as a genocide, says that the country's government refuses to acknowledge Turkish culpability partly because of the sensitive issue of reparations for survivors and their descendants. But the stance also stems from deeper roots: the country's founding in 1923 on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

"If you acknowledge the Armenian genocide, then you have to acknowledge that an important number of Turkish founding fathers were either involved directly in genocide or became rich during the genocidal process" through the seizure of Armenian property, said Akcam.

Both films were in the works well before the April 24, 2015, centenary of the tragedy , which helped increase awareness of the subject.

"The Armenian genocide is one of the most well-documented humanitarian catastrophes of the 20th century," said Eric Esrailian, lead producer for Survival Pictures, which produced "The Promise" - his first film, as he's also a physician at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. "It was, in real time ... frequently written about in U.S. newspapers. There was a huge humanitarian relief effort."

It is largely due to Turkish pressure on the film industry that a movie like "The Promise" was not made sooner. In the 1930s, MGM acquired the film rights to "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh," Franz Werfel's best-selling novel inspired by the true story of several thousand Armenians who survived a mountaintop siege. But lobbying by Turkish Ambassador to the United States Mehmet Munir Ertegun (whose son Ahmet went on to found Atlantic Records) forced the studio to drop the project.

Recent years have seen a couple of small-scale indie features that deal with the tragedy, including Armenian Canadian director Atom Egoyan's "Ararat" (2002) and Turkish German director Fatih Akin's "The Cut" (2014).

"The Promise" was also developed outside the studio system, financed entirely by the late mogul Kirk Kerkorian, who owned MGM for many years and later founded Survival Pictures in 2012.

"The 'promise' means so much to us personally," said Esrailian. "The promise was from Mr. Kerkorian to make the film. The promise was from us to complete the film. The promise is for us to never forget. And the promise is for us to also vow to do something so that it never happens again."

With a budget of nearly $100 million, the film is one of the most expensive independent films ever made, according to Variety. And the entire endeavor is not-for-profit: Survival Pictures has committed to donating all proceeds to nonprofit organizations, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation and "other human rights and humanitarian groups."

"The Ottoman Lieutenant" was also made with private financing, in this case from a group of Turkish producers working in film, TV and advertising. They teamed up with producer Stephen Joel Brown ("Seven"), as well as an American director, Joseph Ruben ("The Forgotten"), and screenwriter, Jeff Stockwell ("Bridge to Terabithia"), to make a feature that would have high production values.

In an interview, Brown maintained that their film was not seeking to promote a particular political agenda, describing it as "a classic love story, set at a time and place that we really haven't seen in cinema."

While foregrounding the clandestine romance between the American nurse and the Ottoman lieutenant, the movie does not completely shy away from showing the suffering of the Armenians, particularly in one crucial scene involving Turkish soldiers. "That [scene] seems kind of unequivocally saying, Turks force-marched Armenians and then slaughtered them along the way," said Stockwell, the screenwriter. "Whatever you want to quibble about, there it is. Now, is there enough? Is it soft-pedaled?"

Nevertheless, focusing the action on the town of Van and showing one of the few Armenian insurgencies, which took place there in April and May 1915, has the effect of promoting the Turkish narrative, which points to the Van resistance as a justification for repression of the Armenians.

"The official Turkish argument is that deportation of Armenians was a response to Armenian uprisings," said Akcam (who has not seen "The Ottoman Lieutenant"). "This is the reason the Van event is crucial in Ottoman Turkish historiography. This argument is not correct, because ... we know that the decision for deportation was already taken before the Van uprising."

(The studio did not make the Turkish producers available for interviews.)

A sizable contingent of Turks, as well as many in the Armenian diaspora, have been aware of "The Promise" for some time. Last October, outlets including the Independent reported that it had more than 85,000 ratings on IMDb, nearly all of them either 1 or 10 stars. Given that the film had had just three public screenings by that point, it seemed clear that users who had not even seen it were "rating" it based purely on their politics.

Similarly, before "The Ottoman Lieutenant" had even opened, it was quickly dismissed in Armenian American publications and in YouTube comments sections as Turkish propaganda.

While neither movie is likely to settle the debate over the events of World War I, these portrayals might prompt some Americans to look into the historical record - and draw their own conclusions.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

** FATHER FRANK’S RANTS Rant Number 719 22 March 17 JIHADI GIRLS

Rant Number 719         22 March 17


Has Islamic State missed a crucial step in refusing to embrace feminism? Nelly Lahoud, who teaches US military, contends that much.

Last year in Mombasa, Kenya, three burqa-wearing females threw a petrol bomb and stabbed two policemen. The cops shot them dead. The relatively piffling attack struck Ms Lahoud. A thrilling sign that ISIS had at last chosen to make women warriors of the Jihad, along with men? To allow its women to ‘explore their eros’, as she intriguingly puts it?

The besieged Raqqa Caliphate’s declared policy is to bar free mingling between sexes. Because of the risks it may lead to fornication – unlawful sexual activity, according to Islamic Law – though Ms Lahoud would prefer to call it ‘exploring eros’. Admittedly, Jihadi men’s sexuality is less constrained. They can take as many as four wives, plus slave-girls. Practices not always conducive to household tranquillity. Quarrels between jealous wives have ensued. Though the wives can unite in beating up the unfortunate concubines. A headache for the returning male soldiers, I guess…

Still, reports of cruelties towards slave girls are ‘lies and false stories’, a Caliphate spokeswoman warns. Islamic Law urges kindness towards slaves, even if infidels, the lady reminds. Not impossible. Remember the WWI Allied propaganda lies about German soldiers in occupied Belgium cutting off the hands of children? Maybe the slave girls are having an agreeable time. Better protected than prostitutes in the West, ISIS claims. Huh!

In her IISS Survival article, Ms Lahoud reproaches ISIS for not promoting ‘female empowerment.’ Because of its exclusion of females from the battlefield. Or playing an active role in the Jihad. Actually, because Jihad has many meanings – ranging from writing to raising money – women are not inactive in Caliphate ranks. Quite apart from supporting their fighting husbands, they campaign online for the cause. Fiery Jihadi poetess Ahlam al-Nasr has even suggested joining men on the terror battlefield. Until Mombasa, the offer had not been taken up.

An example of female or ‘erotic’ empowerment Lahoud quotes is a tad controversial. A certain David Biale attributes the success of the Zionist project – establishing the jolly State of Israel – to an ‘erotic revolution’ among its Zionist citizens. Odd quotation. Because famed Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld maintains that women, even the butch IDF amazons, tend to reduce efficiency on the battlefield. Their presence hinders the men. And the females’ fighting is not up to scratch. It follows that the Caliphate would be ill-advised to imitate IDF. Besides, the idea that ISIS should wish to emulate the women of the loathed, diabolical ‘Zionist Entity’ is bizarre, to say the least.

Jihadi females do physical exercise, know how to use a gun and enforce proper public women’s conduct in Caliphate territory. (Misogynist Scottish reformer John Knox would have approved: in his invective against ‘the monstrous regimen of women’, he conceded that ladies can have power over other ladies.) But one thing bothers Nelly Lahoud: those women do not have a full combat role. Namely, they can’t go out and kill. Again, a little odd. Given ISIS indiscriminate terror tactics, suicide bombing and targeting of innocent civilians of any religion, would the multiplication of such outrages thanks to women’s involvement cheer her feminist heart? I wonder…

Lahoud accuses the Mombasa attackers of ‘ideological confusion’. They stated that their action was aimed at encouraging their brothers in religion to follow suit. Not their Muslim sisters. (Guess a rabid misogynist might sneer at ‘peculiar female logic’.) Their guilt was in not being feminist enough, presumably. But that says more about Nelly’s doctrinaire position that the Jihadi women’s. They wanted their example to inspire men to do military Jihad. Not the women. I discern no ideological contradiction in that. Because Jihadi ladies are not ‘feminists’ in the Western cultural sense advocated by Ms Lahoud. Logical enough.

The Kenya episode stirred up a lively Jihadi debate on online forums. ‘Is it permissible to for Muslim women to act in such non-Muslim way as to lure infidel enemies by feigning romance, so the infidels may be killed?’ someone asked. An astute chap. Because he pointed out that ‘the enemy’ can be hooked with three baits: money, power and women. Pretty universally accurate of a secular society, methinks. Of course, faithful females acting that way would have to act promiscuously, behave sinfully. (A situation familiar to spies. The morality of people in, say, certain environmentalist terror groups is that of alley cats: how can they be infiltrated without sleeping around?) Does the end justify the means, ‘infidel’ writer Machiavelli asked long ago? Jihadis have a large stock of hadiths and traditions to accommodate that one, surely.

ISIS as a whole suffers from ‘ideological incoherence’, Lahoud chides. She asserts the wars fought by the Prophet Muhammad in Arabia included the participation of fighting females. A model presumably normative for ISIS. Here the priest pleads ignorant. True or not? I’d be grateful for scholarly enlightenment. Although I suspect the Prophet’s overall paradigm of female ‘empowerment’ differed a little bit from that of Ms Lahoud. Anyway, she argues it has to do not with sharia’ but eros - the recurrent bee in her bonnet. Jihadi men are obsessed with keeping their females chaste, even if detracts from the Jihad’s victory. Maybe. Pity they don’t take Nelly Lahoud as their a’alima, a guiding scholar. Nor do they buy into her Western-style brand of dogmatic feminism. They would then see light and more innocent people would be slaughtered by lethal Jihadi girls. Lovely prospect, eh?

Revd Frank Julian Gelli


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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... Protests over death in jail

Vestnik Kavkaza
Protests in Armenia over activist's death in jail 

March 19

Protesters have demonstrated in the Armenian capital of Yerevan over the death in prison of an opposition activist. Over 1,000 people gathered Friday in downtown Yerevan for a second day to criticize the government and demand a proper investigation into the death of 49-year old Artur Sarkisyan, Fox News reports.

Sarkisyan went on a hunger strike last month to protest his incarceration. He died of heart failure on Thursday.

Investigators have opened a criminal case into his death.

Sarkisyan was arrested last year, accused of aiding terrorists for delivering food to a group of gunmen who seized a Yerevan police station. The armed radicals called for the release of an opposition leader during a two-week standoff with police that resulted in two deaths and triggered large street protests.

Armenia: Life in a Suitcase - Al Jazeera World
Armenian women working in Istanbul
Sep 28 , 2016 
As the Armenian economy continues to struggle, as do its people. Over a third of the country's population lives under the poverty line and the price of common goods shows no sign of moderation.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians have immigrated to neighboring and far away countries, and although the border with Turkey has been closed since 1993, many continue to make the short journey over - the proximity from home a draw-factor for those who can't bear to move further away.

This film tells the poignant story of two Armenian women unable to survive at home and who leave their families to join the many economic migrants with hopes of a better life for their families.

Anahit Donoyan lost thirty family members in an Armenian earthquake, after her husband passed away at a mere 50 years old. When she first moved to Istanbul, manual labor was how she earned her keep.

"I worked in a factory and at a restaurant. I cleaned hallways at night. I took care of babies. I would steam corn and sell it by the sea. Then I was a housekeeper. All kinds of work. I'm not ashamed because I was providing for my children," says Donoyan.

Now, too old for such physical roles, she ekes out a living selling Armenian food products to other immigrants, not unlike herself, out of a suitcase on the streets of Istanbul.

She has lived and worked illegally in Turkey for 18 years, avoided trouble with the authorities and still tries to support her family in Armenia and Russia.

"I've been setting up a stall and selling my goods here for five years. No one's ever asked me what I was doing here. Never. Everyone's fond of me and I'm fond of them."

Karine Galstyan is also Armenian and came to Turkey looking for work in 2004. After marrying a Turkish man, her residency and work status are a lot more stable, allowing her easier transport in and out of Turkey and Armenia.

"It was very difficult for me. I would lie in bed at night and my mind was in Armenia with my children. But, as a mother, I suffered to make sure my children were taken care of," she remembers.

Galstyan buys cheap clothes in Istanbul and takes them in a suitcase to sell in Armenia a couple of times a month, earning around $300 [≈ cost of PS3 gaming system, 2011] a trip. Where children's shoes can cost as much as $21 in Armenia, Istanbul affords Galstyan a business opportunity with commodities at a fraction of the price, at as little as $2 per item.

In spite of the distance from their families, the intensity at which they work and the routine lives they lead trying to make ends meet, the two women are happy to be able to support the ones they love and support themselves. A feeling that trumps the desire to be at home.

"I love Istanbul. People love a place if they have a good life and are making a good living," confirms Galstyan.
Last year, 22,264 Armenians received Russian citizenship
Marianna Mkrtchyan 
March 20 2017 
In 2016, 22,264 Armenians received Russian citizenship (in 2015, there were 18,653 people). This is reported by RT with reference to the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. 

The department noted that the demand for Russian citizenship in the CIS countries is traditionally high. According to official data, in 2016, 100 696 Ukrainians became holders of the Russian Federation passport, which is 49% more than in 2015 (67,400 people) according to the number of Russian passports received. On the second line is Kazakhstan - 37 837 people (in 2015 - 32070), in third place was Uzbekistan - 23 216 people (in 2015 - 22 557)", the department reports.

At the same time, it is emphasized that the observed growth in the issuance of Russian passports to CIS citizens is mainly due to the expansion of the state program to assist the voluntary resettlement of compatriots residing abroad in the Russian Federation.

To recall, the main objectives developed at the initiative of the President of the Russian Federation, V.V. Putin and the program "Compatriots", approved in 2006, is to stimulate and organize the process of voluntary resettlement of compatriots to Russia, to compensate for the natural loss of population in the country and in its individual regions by attracting immigrants to permanent residence in the Russian Federation. Under this program, Russia offers relocation and assistance to those who do not have a job, and then, with the necessary documents, the opportunity to obtain citizenship in six months, living in a remote region of the country. Those who receive the status of a migrant are granted a one-time financial benefit in the amount of four to eight thousand dollars, and free delivery of property is also provided.

The Armenian leadership has repeatedly stated that it opposes the implementation of this program in Armenia. Back in 2013, the former Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said that the program "Compatriots" is unacceptable for Armenia. "We did not give consent to the implementation of this program in Armenia. We are conducting consistent work, we are discussing this issue with our Russian colleagues, including within the framework of a joint intergovernmental commission", Tigran Sargsyan said. 
Cloths by Armenian designers conquer Paris – Mir 24
“The Textile enterprises of Armenia modernize and expand sales markets. The second phase of the program aimed improving the competitiveness of light industry began in the country,” the correspondent of Mir 24 Russian news agency has evaluated the quality of the cloths by Armenian designers.

The author note that the costumes at the textile factory are sewn by the order of Valentin Yudashkin, whose Fashion House is impressed by the clothing models of the Armenian designers. The clothing collection of the Armenians has already been displayed in France.

“In Paris, our costumes were chosen among 150 other cloths. It is based on the quality of our tailoring. We make costumes in line with the existing standards in every country,” Director of the textile production Lida Sargsyan said.

The Russian textile shop of the Armenian cloths is one of the most attractive ones. Italian standards, natural fabrics and impeccable quality of tailoring – these qualities attract new fans.

The source notes that over the past year five light industry enterprises were opened in the country. “Everyone needs quality specialists. Designers-technologists of the new generation are trained in the school at the model agency, which is unique in the country. The teachers of the school promise to teach all the textile subtleties in a year,” reads the article.

The report notes that until the end of the year, two more spinning and sewing factories will be opened in Armenia with the manufacturers promising to increase the production output for twice at least.

Armenian products will not be limited to the Russian market. There are plans to export the good to Europe, the report says. 
Armenia’s rising tech scene: The new Silicon Valley of the former Soviet Union
By Gev Balian  
March 17, 2017 

Armenia was once the center of IT innovation for the USSR. A turbulent history has stifled the economy, but things are starting to look up for the Caucasus republic. A highly-skilled, post-soviet engineering workforce and a diaspora of advocates, combined with new government initiatives, are igniting renewed growth in Armenia’s IT sector. These businesses are creating new technologies — from award-winning mobile apps to world-first presentation tools — recognized across the globe and many startups are making their way to the US.

The Armenian tech industry is growing at an annual rate of 20 percent , greatly exceeding the country’s two percent economic growth. Annual tech revenues from some 400 IT companies make up $475 million and by 2018, it is estimated this industry will be the dominant sector driving new wealth for the economy.

Emerging startups, global expansion and initiatives from some of the biggest names in tech – from Intel to Microsoft — are creating great momentum. Armenia’s tech scene is at a real turning point. The Silicon Valley of the former Soviet Union has morphed into a thriving tech startup hub, attracting global recognition.

So, how is the Armenian tech scene growing? What is the country doing to drive international investment and which startups are making the biggest waves in the global tech scene? Reigniting IT innovation

In the days of the Soviet Union, Armenia designed and manufactured 40 percent of the mainframe computers for the military. The Yerevan Computer Research Institute, a secret building in the capital city, employed 5,000 highly skilled workers, but later fell to ruin. This is just a small portion of the “several hundred thousand specialists” that worked behind the scenes at the heart of IT innovation, according to the Union of Information Technology Enterprises in Yerevan .

This history, combined with Soviet academia’s celebration for the sciences and great Armenian determination, have provided the foundation to kick-start a resurgence of tech innovation. As tech revenues continue to rise, the largest foreign investment, according to the Armenian governmen t, is going into “telecommunications, mining, energy, air transportation and financial sectors.”

Online gaming and sports betting software company BetConstruct, an investor in my company ucraft, launched in Yerevan in 2003 and today has offices worldwide. BetConstruct’s founder and CEO Vahe Baloulian told me, “When we launched, the technology sector in Armenia consisted mainly of software houses serving the nascent industries and the government and some offshoots of foreign technology companies, looking for more affordable resources. The successes of these prompted local entrepreneurs to set up development firms that would attract outsourced work.”

He described how improvements in infrastructure mean opening business in Armenia today is far easier, “The old communication monopoly has been abolished, and competing providers have made the Internet a lot more affordable and accessible.”

Many of the largest IT companies operating in Armenia, such as Microsoft, Google and Oracle, are internationally headquartered with development teams based in the country. The government encourages expansion from these corporates with the implementation of its “open door” policy , designed to encourage foreign business owners and investment, with legal regimes that protect foreign capital.

In 2012, Intel announced the launch of a new research center during the ArmTech Congress. US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern reported the potential for IT growth, “The creative mind is the key to the future of Armenia. The U.S. Department of Commerce has issued a report based on UNESCO data, according to which Armenia is the first among CIS member states with the number of inventions per capita,” he said.

The multinational joined global names such as Synopsys, D-Link and “virtualization giant” VMWare after its acquisition of IT startup Integrien — each running operations from the country and taking action to rouse a new generation of tech innovation.

Synopsys, the largest global company in electronic design automation (EDA), with an annual revenue of over $2 billion USD, launched offices in Armenia in 2004. Today it is one of the largest IT companies in the country, with over 650 employees. It is also heavily involved in schemes to support rising talent. Synopsys collaborates with Armenia’s Polytechnic University to provide educational programs for students, and also hiring a large number of graduates.

These initiatives work to support Armenia’s youth through education and increasing work availability for skilled Armenians. But large corporates are not the only option, a burgeoning startup scene enabled by new government tax reduction schemes is changing the face of Yerevan and attracting global attention. New legislation empowers entrepreneurs in Yerevan

Yerevan is one of the oldest cities in the world. However this ancient transit hub has renewed energy as the center of Armenia’s startup scene.

Recent legislation has made founding, operating and growing a tech startup in Armenia much simpler. After lobbying from the Union of Information Technology Enterprises (UITE), Armenian headquartered startups, tech centers, incubators and accelerations with fewer than 30 employees, now benefit from tax privileges.

Yerevan is also home to two free economic zones (FEZ) where businesses that meet certain startup requirements can operate without paying VAT, profit, property and income tax, also escaping export customs duty charges . One of these is found in the area of the RAO Mars Closed Joint-Stock Company and Yerevan Research Institute of Mathematical Machines, and is designed to enable, manufacture and export of new technologies.

Today, you really can launch a startup for a very low cost — and the effects of this are a growing startup ecosystem, and a culture of excitement. Armenian businesses are gaining traction and experiencing global recognition. Companies such as PicsArt, Triada Studios, Plexonic and BetConstruct are making waves in the tech industry, showing the enormous potential Armenia has as a center of innovation.

Yerevan-based Triada Studio is the creator of puzzle app Shadowmatic , the winner of the prestigious Apple Design Award and App Store Best of 2015. Triada Studios launched in 1993 as a computer graphics and animation studio. Cofounder and CEO Ara Aghamyan described the “huge intellectual potential” in Armenia.

Aghamyan claims the biggest challenge that the Armenian tech-scene faces today is the exodus of talent, as a large number of startups end up moving to the U.S. to raise capital and reach greater audiences. “We can only overcome this by creating an ecosystem that will not only make people stay in the country, but also attract great minds from all over the world,” he told me. The move to Silicon Valley

Nigel Sharp is the former technical project manager for Armenia’s TUMO Center for Creative Technologies and founder of Armenia-based startup Lionsharp creator of Voiceboard , “the world’s first gesture and voice controlled presentation solution.” Sharp told PSFK that a poor track record of foreign investment “plagued with corruption and losses” has created a barrier to foreign investment.

This distrust combined with the challenges of networking, common in any emerging startup hub, prevents many businesses from putting their creations in front of a global audience. This is made more difficult by limited access to entrepreneurial education, language differences and the need to travel. As a result, Armenian startups are moving to the U.S. to gain support, funding and improve their growth prospects.

In April, photo-editing app PicsArt raised an additional $20M in VC, bringing its total funding to $45M and enabling the Armenia-born startup to grow its presence in China and Japan. In 2015, PicsArt’s CEO Hovhannes Avoyan relocated to join the company’s Chief Revenue Officer in San Francisco, helping to further solidify PicsArt’s recognition in the U.S. tech scene. PicsArt was later that year included on Forbes’s list of ”Hottest Startups of 2015” .

Influencers in the tech world are making efforts to strengthen ties between Armenia and the US. In March Triada Studios’ Ara Aghamyan wrote to President Obama explaining the tech community’s role in developing US-Armenian commerce. He drew attention to the issue of double taxation that deters foreign investment and restricts growth for businesses that are based in Armenia.

Shadowmatic is not the first to take a stand. PicsArt, Microsoft, FedEX, NASDAQ, Marriott, Grant Thorton and more have all gone on record in support of better economic relations to empower growth within the country. US advocates of Armenian tech growth

Armenia’s enormous diaspora means that there are actually more Armenians living outside of the country: There are between seven to 10 million Armenians concentrated in Russia, the US and France, in contrast to just three million within the country. Second generations Armenians today also add to this global network actively working to support Armenia’s future growth.

Co-founder of Inet Technologies, Sam Simonian and his wife Sylva founded TUMO Center for Creative Technologies ; a free digital learning center in Yerevan, that provides classes for around 5,000 12-18 year olds working with new technologies. Armenia boasts a number of innovative centers such as TUMO, launched as a result of international advocates, and big partnerships.

Former Twitter VP, Uber executive Raffi Krikorian, sits on the board at TUMO, and is active when it comes to supporting new startups, “Honestly, if you are Armenian, I will probably want to help you” he said in an interview with Repat Armenia .

In 2011, Microsoft launched the Microsoft Innovation Center Armenia in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF). The center aims to enable IT growth by supporting students and startups. It offers programs such as coding bootcamps, training courses and workshops and startup acceleration schemes that include early-seed investment, helping to power a growing startup ecosystem.

Entrepreneurs also benefit from a new emergence of enterprises such as the Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED) which this year launched the Armenia – US IT Acceleration Program with the EIF, the Government of Armenia and the World Bank, helping to connect new startups with global markets.

As with any emerging industry Armenia’s startup scene struggles with limited cash flow and a need to respond quickly to changing tech. New businesses such as Armenia’s first virtual networking and startup accelerator, HIVE and the country’s first technology-focused VC firm, Granatus Ventures , help startups to get off the ground. However, in order to compete on a larger-scale, these businesses need to attract larger audiences and global investment.

But the wheels are in motion, today it is far easier than ever before. As more business leaders draw attention to both the barriers that Armenia faces, but also the potential of this emerging industry, we can expect continued growth from this ancient centre of innovation.

Monday, 20 March 2017

GIBRAHAYER E-MAGAZINE... March 2017 issue

Read the March 2017 issue by clicking here:
► Hovig to represent Cyprus in Eurovision 2017.
► Turkey Vs "Fascist" Netherlands.
► From Armenia with love to Cyprus MEP Dr. Eleni Theocharous
► Haig Yazdjian in Cyprus
► Coming up: Aznive Papazian's exhibition in Nicosia
► Fresh images from Ganchvor Church in Turkish-occupied Famagusta
► Book Launch: Lana Der Parthogh
► Komitas, The Artist and The Martyr
► ARF Youth at Socialist International meeting in Cyprus
► "A Flock of Birds" by Victoria Harwood Butler-Sloss
► Gibrahayer calendar
► Hrant Dink remembered in Cyprus
► Interview with author Vahan Zanoyan
► Hamazkayin's Ani Dance Ensemble of Paphos
► Our revolution, socialism, bullying and social justice
► Gibrahayer e-magazine Facebook numbers
► Cyprus Chamber orchestra features Komitas
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