Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Rafael Megall Reception Invitation


Born in Yerevan, Armenia in 1983 Rafael started to paint at the age of nine.
From 1998 to 2004 he studied at the Yerevan State Academy of Arts and since 2008 has become a member of the Union of Artists of the Republic of Armenia.

Since an early age he has exhibited his paintings, both in solo exhibitions and at prestigious international shows.

Most recently he participated in SOFA-New York 2009, ArtExpo-New York 2009, Florence Biennale 2009 and Toronto Art Expo in 2010.

Rafael’s paintings appear in numerous private and public collections, including National Gallery of Armenia and the Vatican.

It is an honour to present this first UK exhibition of the fine young Armenian artist Rafael Megall.
My first reaction to his wonderfully vibrant paintings was to smile at the warmth and energy they emanate.
Evincing a powerful sense of form and colour the paintings are executed with a sureness of touch that is a product of Rafael's relationship with and interpretation of Nature.

During the exhibition the gallery will be open 10-5 from Tuesday 12 to Sunday 17 April
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you wish to view the paintings or require further information.

I look forward to seeing you in the gallery soon.

Celine Gauld-Bruckner

You can also find us on Facebook and Art Rabbit

Legislation passes from legal committee

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CYPRUS PARLIAMENT UPDATE: Thursday 24 March, 2012 - The legislation on the status of the religious minorities has gone a step forward and passed today from the Parliament's Committee of Legal Affairs. It will be on the agenda of the next week’s session of the Cyprus Parliament for a vote. It is expected to pass unanimously.

Gibrahayer e-magazine 14 March 2011 - After three years of persistent efforts by the Representatives of the religious minorities of Cyprus (Armenians, Maronites and Latins), spear-headed by the Armenian MP Vartkes Mahdessian, legislation upgrading the status of the communities through the increased powers of the minority MPs is virtually a reality.
Procedures to conduct community affairs are set to receive a new momentum, by legislation that will be voted shortly, affecting the decision-making processes that involve the community and its relationship with government and Parliamentary bodies.
With this legislation, community Representatives will have to provide a written opinion on matters related to their respective communities. These opinions will be seriously taken into consideration and discussed in each related committee. If the final decisions of committees are contrary to that of the community MPs, a valid, transparent and substantiated position will have to go on record and made public by the committees.
In recent decades a lot has been talked about the enhancement of the role of the minority MPs. Our MP Vartkes Mahdessian said that support for the proposed law has already been secured from all parties in Parliament and he believed that these amendments will be passed unanimously.
“A major and historic change is a reality” Mahdessian said and concluded. “We can all be proud that a more effective and transparent decision-making process as well as a significant enhancement of the status of our community has been achieved and it is being sealed by the new legislation.”


March 21, PanARMENIAN.Net - On trial since September 2010, the Turkish publisher Ragip Zarakolu and writer Mehmet Gуler have been convicted for “propaganda for the PKK” in the book "The KCK file: Global State and Kurds without a State", the statement issued by The European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy said.
On March 10th, 2011, Ragip Zarakolu faces a prison sentence of more than seven years for publishing the book, banned and confiscated in May 2010, right after it had been published at the first Book Fair in Diyarbakir.
Zarakolu, along with his wife Ayshe, who has passed away, has been subject to harassment, trials and periods of imprisonment since the 1970s, for publishing books about the Armenian Genocide, perpetrated by Turkey.
Zarakolu is one of the founding members of the Turkish Association for Human Rights, Chairperson of the Committee for Freedom of Publication in Turkey. He was on trial under Article 301 for his publications on Turkish taboos (Armenian Genocide, Kurdish question, role of the army in political life, torture).
“Turkey once has again denied its commitment to constitutional reforms towards the European Union; Turkish leaders’ declarations about positive change towards Democracy and Free Speech are mere fictional statements” stated Hilda Choboyian, President of the European Armenian Federation.
The Federation has repeatedly alerted the European Union on the condemnation of Turkish intellectuals and journalists under the 301 Article of the Turkish Penal Code, many of them denouncing Turkey’s Denial policy regarding the Armenian Genocide.
By voting Mrs Oomen-Ruijten's report on Turkey’s progress, the Federation considers that the European Parliament has supported Turkey in its refusal to admit its State crimes: “the European Parliament failed to give the right signal to that country regarding the Armenian genocide; It is a disservice to Turkish Democrats and to Turkey to import that taboo in Europe, while Turkish intellectuals consistently take important risks to get rid of denial policy”, concluded Hilda Choboyian.


Saturday, Mar 19 2011 - Armenian Weekly - The ARF Dashnaktsoutiun Hay Tad (Armenian Cause) Central Council issued a declaration on March 19 demanding attorneys involved in genocide survivor insurance settlement cases to “voluntarily and immediately submit the settlement disbursements to a full and complete independent professional audit and inform the Armenian people of the results.”
ARF Dashnaktsoutiun demands attorneys involved in genocide survivor insurance settlement case to conduct independent audit and release results.

Below is the full statement:
In recent days, the news that two of the attorneys of the Genocide survivor insurance settlement case are accusing their co-counsel for defrauding the community by diverting settlement funds meant for Armenian national and community organizations, has caused much concern in Armenian society.
Regardless of whether these accusations prove to be true or not, they do have the capacity to shake the trust of our people concerning national matters, although, in these cases, the lawsuits pursuing mainly personal interests were initiated and led by individual attorneys.
We can not ignore these allegations: a) because they are being made by individuals who have been in a position of knowledge; b) because the allegations pertain to the defrauding of resources, which are the property of our people as a whole and national organizations specifically.
In order to keep –as much as possible– the trust of Armenian society intact, we call upon the accusers and the accused, and demand that, independently of the court proceeding, they voluntarily and immediately submit the settlement disbursements to a full and complete independent professional audit and inform the Armenian people of the results. The process should have been carried out in such transparency from the very beginning; now it has become urgent and crucial.

ARF Dashnaktsoutiun Hay Tad (Armenian Cause) Central Council March 19, 2011


Bolis - As part of their anti-Armenian Genocide campaign, the Turkish authorities have spent over 3 million US dollars, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet says, citing the US Department of Justice reports.
Through its diplomatic channels in Washington, Ankara has reportedly transferred a sum of $3.3 million to the United States lobbyist organisations.
”Most of the sums were spent to halt the Congress efforts to adopt the Resolution on the Armenian Genocide,” the Turkish publication says.
”The lion’s share was paid to the Gephard Group lobbyist organisation. To prevent the Genocide Resolution from being adopted, former Congressmen Richard Gephard had several phone conversations with the head of President Obama administration and the US Secretary of State.”
According to the US Department of Justice, the Turkish authorities allocated $1.42 million to Gephardt Group, $536,000 to Dickstein Shapiro, $590,000 to Fleishman-Hillard, 270,000 to 30 Point Strategies, $270,000 to Silver Associates, $168,000 to the Caspian and $50,000 to the Mercer.


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AYMA / HMEM General Meeting - new committee
The following committee members were elected at the 71st General Meeting of HMEM / AYMA that took place last week in Nicosia; Nareg Tavitian (President), Harout Der Bedrossian (Secretary), Mikael Misho Ananikian (Treasurer), Raffi Anmahouni, Vartan Gosdanian, Ohan Ouzounian and Garo Terzian.


Click here to view images here


Alexander-Michael Hadjilyra - A few days ago I was happy to receive the Azad Tsayn newspaper through the post. I was also glad to find an additional piece of paper bundled with it, only until I managed to read its content. It was an announcement by the so-called United Solidarity Front (Miatsial Hamerashkhagan Djagad), which consisted of three paragraphs and was written in a very peculiar manner. The first paragraph declared that “the Armenian community of Cyprus is in a serious need of unity, internal solidarity and the creation of a new atmosphere, in which the exchange of ideas and opinions will be not only free, but also necessary”.
The second paragraph was full of venomous lies, such as that allegedly “in the course of the last five years, unprecedentedly ugly views have appeared inside our community, which caused the discontent and wrath of a large part of the community”, accusing the Armenian MP Vartkes Mahdessian of “negligence for communal factions and organisations”, whose “openly expressed contempt … has weakened our community, it has hindered his usefulness and it has deepened the established split between ‘us’ and ‘you’”.
The third paragraph expressed the belief that “the Armenian community of Cyprus needs a new Parliamentary Representative who enjoys support within the community … who will be ready to dedicate himself to the democratic and balanced approaches … to encourage all those efforts which tend to secure the prosperity of the Armenian community and the interests of the nation”.
To start with, the interests of the (Armenian) nation can hardly be secured by the Representative of a minute Diasporan community, although the Representative can certainly put his own touch on the whole mosaic of hayabahbanoum. As for the interests of the community, especially bearing in mind the main achievements of Vartkes Mahdessian during his 5-year term of office, it will become an indisputable fact that this particular Representative has managed to do much, much more for the community within 5 years, compared to his predecessors’ 5-year terms.
If there was ever a time the Armenian-Cypriot community has been strong, both on the inside and on the outside, it is now. Never before has there been such an attempt of mending established divisions, just as never before has there been such a systematic and focused effort to inform non-Armenian Cypriots of the diachronic presence, rich language and culture and important contribution of the community. It is a tangible fact that Vartkes Mahdessian has worked laboriously to promote awareness of the community to fellow-Cypriots. On a personal level, I am grateful that Mr Mahdessian has seen the potential I have and has amiably exploited my hayasiroutiun and my thorough research for the noble cause of promoting the community and using its history as a beacon for the future. The vaguely mentioned ugly views with the community and the alleged discontent and wrath of a large part of the community are obviously the figment of imagination, as one only needs to talk to the people, in order to grasp the vibe of the community.
With regard to unity and internal solidarity, I can only say that whatever lack of those values exists within the community is certainly not the product of Mr Mahdessian’s 5-year term. Moreover, the situation 5 years ago was much more polarised than it is now; therefore, the truth of the matter is that this particular Representative has worked towards minimising division. Furthermore, nothing could be further away from the truth regarding the expressed view of the present exchange of ideas and opinions within the community. Never before has there been such transparency and never before has a Representative had this much co-operation with communal organisations, especially with the Ethnarchy. I know from a personal experience that the exchange of ideas and opinions with the Representative has been not only very forthcoming, but also desirable. Oftentimes, I say that Mr Mahdessian’s strength lies not only in his deep knowledge of the community and his strong political and diplomatic connections, but also on his established principle of listening to various opinions, in order to better resolve issues.
Drifting away from Vartkes Mahdessian and coming to the Djagad itself and its vague views and since the people behind the Djagad are not the official AGBU or SDHP (Hunchakians) or RAG (Ramgavars), I would like to publicly ask:

  • Who are these people and why do they use the name of an obsolete organisation that no longer functions?
  • Why do these people slander Vartkes Mahdessian and do not name and speak of the only other candidate we know to be running, Dr. Antranik Ashdjian?
  • What is the position of Dr. Antranik Ashdjian on the announcement of the Djagad? Does he endorse the announcement? Are these his associates who will bring the missing harmony within the community or is this just a chthonic attempt on behalf of a few people to slander Vartkes Mahdessian?
It is my belief that the handful of people behind this infamous announcement will remain secret, as they do not have the courage to face the truth and openly present their case in the spirit of a productive dialogue and within the framework of transparency. They want to cause a stir, resulting to a further rift within the community. The more they hide behind sly and impudent announcements, the more we realise that these people are khavarichner (obscurantists) and their objective is to stir and mislead the community.
Works speak for themselves and the vision proposed by Vartkes Mahdessian is based on experience. It is easy to criticise, but difficult to exceed. For all these reasons and precisely because the future belongs to everyone, we continue together, with Vartkes Mahdessian on the helm of the community, with an air of certainty and even better days to come, away from the darkness the khavarichner try to plunge us into.

Announcement from the Chief Editor of Armenian-language monthly Azad Tsayn, Yeran Kouyoumdjian

Organised by Homenmen Cyprus at Brickyard

New development project overlooking Larnaca Salt Lake, by three young Armenian professionals of our community Click here .

Previous issues of Gibrahayer e-magazine can be read here

News in Brief by Sevag Devletian
  • Natasha Tavoukjian from Orbit Moving and Storage recently attended a two-day conference in Bolis which was sponsored by the US State Department with the participation of women business owners from Cyprus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey and Greece. The conference was organised by the KAGIDER Turkish Association of businesswomen that promotes women in the business world in Turkey.
  • "Now is the time to turn hope into action" is the message on the 2011 Armenian Genocide commemorative billboards sponsored by Peace of Art, Inc. One digital billboard is on display now in Foxboro, the second and third billboards are expected to go up on April 4, 2011 in the heart of the Armenian community in Watertown on Mount Auburn Street near the Armenian market and on Arsenal Street, just minutes from the Mass Pike (I-90).
  • Turkey has postponed the purchase of 100 US-made F-35 warplanes in objection to the American's refusal to share the aircraft's technology. The United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway and Denmark have contributed financially to the development of F-35. Israel and Singapore have joined the project as security partners.
  • Official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Lukashevich stated that `the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement is an issue of bilateral relations and Russia is not planning to interfere with this process'.
  • Turkey's top official for relations with the European Union has called on Turks living in the United States to get organised among themselves to watch out for Turkey's interests there.
  • Jewellery and gold confiscated from Armenian houses during the Armenian Genocide, was taken to Bolis and melted into gold coins before being deposited in a German Bank, says attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan, who has recently filed a case against the Federal Reserve Bank. After the World War I, the gold was sold and transported to the Federal Reserve Bank. An Armenian-American attorney has filed a lawsuit against the U.S Federal Reserve to demand the disclosure of information pertaining to Armenian assets that were confiscated by the Ottomans during the 1915 events.
  • All four major political parties in the Turkish Parliament are expected to nominate Armenian candidate hopefuls in the upcoming June 12 general elections.
Letters to the Editor
An appeal

I am the volunteer National President of the Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief (SOAR), Inc. My wife and I established SOAR in May 2006 shortly after adopting our older daughter, Liliana, from Armenia. SOAR is the only nonprofit organization that focuses exclusively on providing humanitarian relief to orphaned children living in Armenia. We provided nearly $60,000 in assistance in 2006, more than $88,000 in 2007, and eclipsed $100,000 in 2008, 2009, and 2010! While our National Board of Directors and Board of Trustees are based in Philadelphia, we have Chapters in Chicago, Idaho, Los Angeles, New England, New York/New Jersey, Northern, CA, Seattle, Washington, DC, and Yerevan.
We are now looking to create a SOAR Chapter in Detroit! We have a small group already organized in the area, but would like to have a few more people join the local Board of Directors before launching. There is no financial commitment – we only ask that you be willing to volunteer a few hours throughout the year for the orphaned children in Armenia.
Is this something you might be interested in? Please contact me at (610) 213-3452 or as soon as possible if the idea appeals to you. Thank you in advance for considering my request!
George S. Yacoubian, Jr., J.D., Ph.D - National SOAR President


By Dr. Arda Jebejian (Linguist)

Often, linguists unexpectedly find themselves in a situation, wherein they face the negative and careless attitudes of members of a society pertaining to the preservation of their language.
What are linguists
to do with regard to such an issue?
Should they merely say, “That’s
their decision and we don’t have the right to interfere”?
Or, based on
past experience, should they try to save the language? It’s adifficult situation.
more here ...

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Gibrahayer Calendar Events

  • Sunday 27 March at 1:00 pm - Mid-Lent ‘’Michink” lunch at the HMEM/AYMA. Organised by The Armenian Relief Society (HOM) Cyprus ‘’Sosse’’ Chapter where Armenian traditional home made and vegetarian food and desserts will be served.
  • Wednesday, March 30 at 6:00 pm - Lecture at Sourp Asdvadzadzin church by Vartan Tashdjian: "Manouge, Endanike yev Tbrotse" (Child, family and school).
  • Saturday, 2 April 2011 at 5:00 pm - Michink meeting (havak), organised by the Ladies' Guild, under the patronage of Archbishop Varoujan at the Utudjian Hall. The speaker will be Lili Hovsepian, on the subject of "Medz Bahki Avantagan Sovoroutiunner" (The tradictional customs of the Great Lent).
  • Wednesday, April 6 at 6 pm - Lecture at Sourp Asdvadzadzin church by Vera Tahmazian: "Manouge, Engerayin Hartser yev Arti Michotsner" (The child, social questions and modern media).
  • Friday 8 April at 8:00 pm - The Armenian Relief Society Cyprus "Sosse" Chapter and Roupen Nahabedian invite you to the opening of an art selling exhibition of works by French-Armenian expressionist painter, Garabed A. Momdjian (Bolis 1922 – Paris 2006) at the Utudjian Hall of The Armenian Prelature. G.A. Momdjian was born in Bolis in 1922 and is the recipient of many prizes, amongst which, 1st prize of Chambre de Metiers de la Seine, 1956, 1st prize at Festival Artistique et Culturel de JAF, 1957 and Medaille d’Argent de la Ville de Paris, which is one of the highest honours awarded to nationals of any country in recognition of their contributions to French and/or international culture. Duration of exhibition: 8–10 April, 11am-1pm & 5:00–7:00pm.
  • Saturday, April 9, 2011, at 6:30 pm: Armenian Evangelical Church Service in Greek Evangelical Church, 20 Gladstonos Street, Nicosia. Guest speaker: Rev. Dr. Vartkes Kassouni (from USA- originally from Cyprus).
  • Monday, April 11 at 8:00 pm - Book Launching: Manuel Kassouni (Cyprus - Armenian scholar and educator) Historical studies Reminiscences and Memoires and recognition (Barkevadroum) for Mrs. Nevart Panayotidou - Kassouni long years of community services in Cyprus. The event will take place in Utudjian Hall, under the auspices of Archbishop Varoujan Hergelian, and the patronage of Armenian MP Vartkes Mahdessian, Armenian Representative in Cyprus Parliament.
  • Tuesday 12 April at 7.30 pm - Painting Exhibition by Sevan Malikyan entitled “Painting Within” at Kypriaki Gonia Gallery in Larnaca. Opening by Armenian MP Vartkes Mahdessian. British Armenian actor Kevork Malikyan will also be present at the opening.
  • Wednesday 13 April at 10:00 am - Armenian Day at Dhali Gymnasium, organised by Levon Kazandjian. Main speaker: President of the Cyprus Parliament Marios Garoyian. Cultural program by the school and Hamazkayin's Sipan Dance Ensemble.
  • Friday, April 15 at 6:00 pm - Lecture at the Sourp Asdvadzadzin church by Violette Tashdjian on the topic of "Manouge yev Azkayin Mshagouyte" (The child and the national culture).
  • Saturday 16 April at 4:00 pm - Easter Tea Bazaar Fundraiser for Armenian Relief Society Cyprus "Sosse" Chapter's humanitarian projects in Armenia and Artsakh at GIBRAHAYER e-magazineAYMA/HMEM.
  • Sunday April 17 at 11:00 am - after Church service - Dzaghgazart Cake Bazaar organised by Nareg Parents Association Nicosia, at Nareg school's entrance Hall.
  • Sunday April 17 at 8:00 pm - Hamazkayin "Oshagan" Cyprus Chapter's annual theatrical performance at PASIDY Hall. "Ges hay in LA" written and directed by Natasha Tavoukjian.
  • Wednesday 27 April at 8:00 pm - Kravadz or in Nicosia.
  • Saturday April 30 - Melkonian Institute 85th anniversary event. Details to follow.
  • Wednesday 4 May at 5:30 pm in Nicosia - Kravadz or. Details to follow.
  • Friday May 6, Annual performance of Sipan dance ensemble of the Hamazkayin Cultural and Educational Association Cyprus "Oshagan" Chapter at the Palace Theatre in Nicosia. Director / Choreographer Felix Haroutunian.
  • Sunday 8 May - Pilgrimage to St. Magar Monastery organised by the Office of the Armenian Representative Vartkes Mahdessian. Details to follow.
  • Wednesday 11 May at 7:30 pm in Nicosia - Kravadz or. Details to follow.
  • Wednesday 18 May at 5:00 pm in Nicosia - Kravadz or. Details to follow.
  • Sunday 22 May - Parliamantery elections for the new House of Representatives, including elections for the seat of the Armenian MP.

A few words about the play: The Medzavorian family - originally from Beirut - Lebanon have been living in Los Angeles, California for 40 years. They have one daughter named Sevan, aged 35. She is attractive and very smart. Despite being a lawyer by profession, she has always succumbed to her parent’s old fashioned ideas and still lives at their home. They have managed to stop her from getting married to a non Armenian for all these years, but as a result, they have also managed to keep her from getting married. She is fine with that, but they are not. Her best friend encourages her to check out a single’s website where she meets an Armenian man, a dream man.
It all sounds too good to be true …
Armenian Sports by Sevag Devletian
  • FOOTBALL: Vardan Minasyan has announced the 22-member Armenian squad for UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against Russia to be held on Saturday 26 March. Armenia are currently 3rd with 7 points in Group B standings.
  • BOXING: In a fierce firefight, undefeated Vanes Martirosyan (29-0, 18 KOs) scored a devastating right hand knockout in the second round over Bladimir Hernandez (18-5, 16 KOs) at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Next up for Martirosyan is a 12-round WBC Silver light middleweight and WBC light middleweight title eliminator fight against Saul Roman (34-8-0, 29 KOs) on April 23, 2011 at the WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
  • JUDO: Armenia's Vahagn Hovsepyan (50kg) won the champion's title at the European Youth Judo Championships.Hovsepyan won gold, defeating an Azerbaijani judoist in the final fight. Knarik Stambultsyan ranked fifth.
  • WEIGHTLIFTING: 11 sportsmen will represent Armenia at European Weightlifting Championship due April 8-17 in Kazan. The 24th European Women’s Championship will host Armenian weightlifters Elen Grigoryan (53kg) and Meline Daliuzyan (75kg).
  • WRESTLING: The top 7 wrestlers of Armenia will represent the country at European Greco-Roman Wrestling Championship Dortmund 2011 starting March 23.
  • CHESS: Armenian grandmaster Levon Aronian dominates the 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess Tournament with 11.5 points. Norway’s Magnus Carlsen comes 2nd with 11 points. India’s Viswanathan Anand is 3rd. In round 9, Aronian will face Russia’s Vladimir Kramnik.
  • TENNIS: Argentina’s David Nalbandian retains his position in the men’s tennis rankings released by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) on March 21, 2011. The tennis player is 19th with 1630 points to his score. Spaniard Rafael Nadal continues to top the rankings, followed by Novak Djokovic (Serbia) who climbed 1 point and Roger Federer (Switzerland).
  • CHESS: The 12th European Championship is being held in Aix-les-Bains, France, until April 3, 2011, hosting more than 400 players from 54 countries, including the strongest Grandmasters of the world. Armenia is represented by Vladimir Akopian, Gabriel Sagrissian, Robert Hovhannisyan, Samvel Ter-Sahakyan, Zaven Andriasyan, Arman Pashikyan, Averik Grigoryan and Hrant Melkumyan.
Every Sunday at Terra Santa Futsal Pitch at 11:00 am

Gibrahay Sports by Sevag Devletian
  • Last week, Yiannos Kouyoumdjian won the Troodos Pancyprian Ski Championships by winning the giant slalom and the slalom and winning the boys overall category. Next on his schedule is Italy, representing the Cyprus ski team.
  • AGBU Ararat defeated Parnassos 6-3 in the Cyprus Futsal Premier League. The win ensures Ararat ranked 2nd place in the league table going into the play offs. Highlights from the
  • Homenmen managed a narrow 4-3 win against Arion Ergaton in the Futsal 2nd Division.
  • HMEM/AYMA suffered a horrendous 6-0 defeat against AOSYL in the Cyprus Amateur Football 2nd Division.
  • AGBU Ararat U-17's recorded a xxxx against Cyprus College U-17's in the Cyprus U-17 Futsal League.

Direct to Yerevan - Armenia

FATHER FRANK’S RANTS - Englishness & Ibn Khaldun

Rant Number 432 16 March 2011

On Sunday evenings Midsomer Murders is on German TV, I learn. The whole nation stops to watch it. ‘It’s so popular!’ says a Teutonic mate of mine. ‘A celebration of Englishness’. But now Midsomer’s co-author is in a pickle. Our star detective show is a hit because it is ethnic minorities-free, the co-author asserts. Its actors are implacably pale-faced. Whiteys. Aargh!The rash statement got him suspended - c’est la vie.

Actually, if Midsomer Murders celebrates anything, it is hecatombs. The fictional village’s phenomenal murder rate worried even the Queen. ‘Too dangerous’, she is reported having said. Nor does John Nettles’ Inspector Barnaby quite convince. His sensitive face, boringly reflecting the conventionally ‘proper’ emotional responses to his investigations, is hardly a mirror of Englishness – indeed, the exact opposite of the stiff upper lip that used to be a true Englishman’s hallmark. As to the race issue, it is a red herring. Anyone who does not inhabit bucolic TV havens like Midsomerbut real English cities like London, Birmingham, Leicester, Bradford & so on knows that multi-racialism and miscegenation are now facts, like tides and dandelions are facts. Still, the trivial hoo-hah raises an interesting issue: Englishness – what is it? What does it mean to be English? Or British, for that matter?

Groan... This sort of ‘what’ question is a waste of time. Because either Englishness, unlike salt or smallpox, has no essence or because any string of putative qualities – like queuing up, milk bottle deliveries, tolerance, fairness & what not – are not unique to the English. Yet, being English is not quite like being a Kryptonian. Prima facie, it makes sense. To dodge it is chicken.

The poor Italian priest dares to advance a suggestion. A fourteenth century Arab polymath - historian & sociologist & philosopher & diplomat & judge & so on - perhaps, just perhaps, has the answer. Asabiyya. A peculiar Arabic word. Could that be it?

Enters Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Khaldun of Tunis. (1332-1406 AD.) Historian A.J. Toynbee termed him a genius. His life was adventurous. Ranged from Moorish Al-Andalus – courtier to the Emir of Granada - to a prison spell in North Africa, to honour and celebrity as a magistrate in Cairo. His whole family and treasure perished in a shipwreck. In Damascus he was ambassador to Tamburlaine and witnessed the appalling sack of the city & the extermination of its inhabitants by the Tartars. In between, he wrote massively. Next time you get stranded on a desert island with a copy of Ibn Khaldun’s encyclopaedic Universal History its perusal might be worth your while. Then you can leisurely delve into that felicitous, if elusive Khaldunian concept, asabiyya.

Social solidarity. Group cohesion. Team spirit. Esprit de corps.Communal bond. Unity. All expressions tentatively conveying some of asabiyya’s meaning. Ibn Khaldun claims this desirable, useful cohesion or social spirit is chiefly based on a) blood ties or kinship ; b) common ancestry; c) common way of life; d) relations of dependence. (Hope this is roughly right but if you are a Khaldun scholar please don’t rip me up.) Solidarity works best in tribes – Bedouins he meant, apparently – villages, cities and states. Solidarity is the cement that holds nations and states together. However, once a powerful polity is set up, solidarity weakens & becomes redundant. Gradually, as the state or empire expands, it begins to split, fragment, grows luxurious, soft and eventually decays. The Arab thinker conceives of civilisations developing into cycles, akin to biological growth, birth, youth, maturity, senility and death. A trifle pessimistic? Well, at least Ibn Khaldun is a good deal less cumbrous, more intelligible than the morphological farrago of history concocted by Oswald Spengler. Maghribi cous-cous is more digestible than Teutonic Schweinebraten, perhaps?

Ibn Khaldun distinguishes states whose laws are based on reason from those whose legislation comes from revelation. The latter type is especially useful, because it includes both life in this world and life beyond the grave. His discussion of jihadin Islamic polities I found really cognitive. An eye opener.

Back to Englishness. Take the Elizabethans. You behold there real asabiyya powerfully, effectively at work. A nation largely united behind a national religion, despite lingering Catholic resistance. Sharing blood ties, common bonds, sense of purpose, spirit, a sense of vision and vocation. The Elizabethan seamen, explorers, adventurers and pirates spread out from the little island and founded and conquered new worlds.

Or consider the Victorians. Today much maligned but a race of tremendous energy and dynamism. An empire-building people. Excelling in science, technology, literature, poetry, social reform, the fine arts and the art of war. Could they ever have done it without possessing strong asabiyya?

This drive carried on victorious through WWI and WWII, most people will argue. I disagree. Both wars were at bottom ruinous European civil wars. Expressions of European malaise, fragmentation and decline. Including British decline. Although the two world wars ended up in apparent victory for Britain, they actually tolled its empire’s death knell. A Welsh adventurer and mountebank at the helm, Lloyd George, symbolised the ominous twilight behind the WWI triumph, whilst Churchill, the brilliant scion of a Peer, ‘the saviour of his country’, actually destroyed very British empire he had gone to war to preserve. England ended up broke. The cunning of reason, Hegel might have called it. Or the inevitable rise and fall of civilisations, as Ibn Khaldun would have observed.

Question: can you detect this health-giving social cohesion, unity, team spirit in today’s Britain? PM David Cameron believes so. His ‘big society’ presupposes it. (What the hell is a ‘small society’, I wonder?) A government department is named after it. Traces of asabiyya perhaps endure. The English still manage to rally together in emergencies. But the proud people have grown despondent, lax and querulous. The economy contracts. The young are offered no vision, no great ideals, no sense of purpose, apart from what Arabs call zina. The national church is on its death bed, and Christianity in retreat or absent from public & private life. The Olympic Games, the Cup, the crop-headed yobs, the celebs, are they today’s expression of English asabiyya? How sad.

Anyway, don’t despair. Inspector Barnaby Number Two now has a dog. And what can be more English, pray, than a man and his dog?

Revd Frank Julian Gelli

Good News from the Homeland

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FATHER FRANK’S RANTS - Fascism & Islam

Rant Number 434 30 March 2011

‘Fascinating Fascism’. The title of an essay about Nazi art by Jewish radical critic Susan Sontag. Fascinating phrase, too. Because ‘fascinate’ comes from Latin ‘fascinum’, a spell. It seems that fascism, despite its expiration 65 years ago, continues to cast an enduring post-mortem spell.

Baleful fascination, to be sure. For twilight scribe Chris Hitchens the jihadists, militant fighters for Islam, are Islamofascists. ‘Fascists’, Henry-Bernard Levy, someone the French call ‘a philosopher’, has called Hamas in Gaza. Mr David Horowitz in the US proclaimed an Islamofascism Awareness Week. And a London top cop the other day has even called an anarchist cell (jihadists, what!?!) in London ‘black-shirted fascists’. Sigh...clearly a fun game many can play.

Fascism comes from fasces, a bundle of rods with an axe-blade, an ancient Roman symbol of authority. Mussolini adopted the emblem for his revolutionary movement after WW1. (Note: the Duce had hijacked the term from the Sicilian fasci, a left-wing, insurrectional agrarian group.) Here are four historical marks of Italian fascism: a) the cult of the leader, the Duce; b) fanatic nationalism, the exaltation of the Italian people; c) anti-communism; d) militarism and warmongering – Italy invaded Albania, Ethiopia and Greece.

Fascism spread through Europe quickly – with modifications. Hitler’s National-Socialism parroted Mussolini with theFuhrerprinzip – the doctrine of absolute obedience to the leader. Anti-Semitism was a novel, rueful German addition. Mussolini only bought that pretty late, after falling under the man with the moustache’s spell. Ill-starred idea, eh?

Caudillo Francisco Franco gleefully copied the leader cult but, wisely, steered clear of Jew-baiting, invaded no foreign country, gradually neutered Spain’s fascist party, la Falange, and prepared the way for Spain’s modernization. As for Romania’s romantic Corneliu Codreanu, Belgium’s cherubic Leon Degrelle, Croatia’s grim Poglavnik Ante Pavelic and France’s ex-Marxist Jacques Doriot – they were minor nationalist and anti-Bolshevik leaders, Germany’s allies, who vanished into the fascistGotterdammerung at the end of WWII.

Prolegomena over. To Islam. Do Islamists engage in leader-worship? Leaders they have – everybody does - but do they exalt them above the masses and the laws of Islam? Bin Laden himself would be aghast at the thought. The Caliph is the Prophet’s religious representative. He leads the Umma but he must do that in accordance with Sharia’, the holy law of Islam.Sharia’ says nothing about absolute obedience to any man, Prophet excepted. Quite the reverse. If the Caliph or the Sultan are found infringing Sharia’, they can be deposed.

Qaddafi’s rule might resemble a fascist dictator’s cult. Brother Leader. Green Book. One party, prisons, all that. Islamist, however, Qaddafi ain’t. He ferociously repressed al-Qaeda. In the current civil war, a few Islamists are fighting him. Could it be that Islamists are actually opposing fascism? Huh!

Nationalism. Islam, like Christianity, recoils from nationalism. Even Arab nationalism. The jihadists who fought in Afghanistan & Iraq did so in the name of the worldwide Umma, not for any nation or race. If anything, Islamists are out-and-out universalists, wanting to convert the whole world to the religion of the Crescent. Of course, principles are one thing, reality another. Ottoman rule in Egypt and North Africa kept Turks aloof from fellow Muslim natives. In Saudi and the Gulf some Arab racism against immigrants exists but that is flawed human nature, not Islam.

Anti-communism. Islamists are anti OK. Who’d object? Not the Yanks, who funded, armed and egged on the mujahidin in Afghanistan. Anyway, communism today, like the British Empire, belongs to the graveyard so...let’s move on.

War. Jihad. Some call it the fifth pillar of Islam. An Islamist can do jihad non-violently, with the pen, the tongue, money, prayer and so on. But Bin Laden’s jihad means armed struggle. The sacred texts of Islam make that obligatory at times, sure. Christians themselves have enjoyed crusading. However, the last ten years have seen Western democracies invade two Muslim countries. So-called humanitarian wars are now the norm, just look at Libya. Bombing in the name of democracy. Democrats swear their motives are angelically pure but...who is invading whom?

Anti-Semitism. Hitchens, Levy & Co. squawk much about that. Given Zionist nationalism and the land-grubbing policies of the State of Israel one can perhaps understand, if not excuse, a whiff of that amongst the bearded brigade. Article 22 of Hamas charter scores an own goal with its bizarre charges of Jewish plots, though I agree, pace Hitchens, that Freemasons are a dodgy lot. But when Levy calls Hamas fascist because they lob a few rudimentary missiles into Israel, this ‘philosopher’ is grotesque. Who is encircling and blockading over a million people in Gaza? Whose land is Hamas defending? Whose air raids and incursions are regularly carrying out into Gaza, killing civilians galore?

Hamas’ methods are ruthless in quelling internal dissent but the anti-fascist partisans presumably Hitch & Levy revere were also pretty brutal in extirpating enemies & rivals in their midst. The cause of liberation demanded it. The crimes of Tito’s lot in Yugoslavia would merit exposing. Hamas does no worse.

I discover online Hitchens justifies his use of ‘Islamofascism’. The ‘exclusive power of a great book’ is one charge. Problem is, that book is the Qur’an. Followed by over a billion Muslims, not just Islamists. As to fascism, Mein Kampf like the Qur’an? Hitch can’t be serious. Mussolini himself never produced a master book of fascism – a former primary school teacher, theDuce knew his limitations, intellectually at least.

‘Hostile to modernity’, the fading scribe holds. Does it mean in art? Yet Dr Goebbels regarded expressionist avant-garde as German art and anyone who has seen Firenze’ railways station, built under fascism, will not doubt that the regime could cope with modernism. Or in technology? Germany’s scientists got close to creating the atom bomb. Is that proof of archaism? Islamists are pretty deft at using cyberwarfare and all the rest. But, yes, there is in both fascism and Islamism a radical negation of certain aspects of modernity, a negation the priest shares. All old hat, anyway. Because modernity is kaput. Post-modernity rules OK.

Unlike communism, which collapsed in ignominious self-disintegration, fascism was so alive and kicking that it had to be slain by democratic crusaders in apocalyptic conflict. Islamism is unlike both, whatever its spell over the clouded minds of our Islamophobes.

Will Islamism die the death or will it overcome? Discuss.

Revd Frank Julian Gelli

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Spring Remembrance Concert In Memory of Armenian Victims of 1915 Genocide

Dear Reader
I am delighted to invite you to this year’s Spring Remembrance Concert taking place at one of London’s exceptional concert venues,
Leighton House Museum on Thursday 7th April 2011 at 7.30pm.
12 Holland Park Road, London W14 8LZ.
Sofia Tumanyan soprano
Vahan Harutyunyan bass
Jakob Fichert piano
A. Schönberg. Songs and arias by
Komitas. Kanachian. Tigranyan.Bulakhov. Rachmaninov
Rossini. Mozart. Puccini . Verdi .S.Gastaldon. C.Bixio.L.Denza. E.Curtis
For reservations please contact RP Musical Management: 020 78350242 or email:

Tickets £15 (including drinks reception)

Please note, capacity of the hall is limited to 100 seats
For more information please see the attachment.
I look forward to welcoming you at this exciting evening of wonderful music.
Kind regards
Regina Parkev

RP Musical Management Ltd
Tel/Fax: +44 207 835 0242 | Email:

Japanese School Choir sing in Armenian

Subject:The Japanese school chorus sing in Armenian - Erevan-Erebuni

Vahram and Gregory say:

"This is incredible!"

Take a look at this Link...

Friday, 25 March 2011


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Thursday, 24 March 2011

FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT IN LOS ANGELES, U.S.A: Hagop Vartanian-i Ngarchagan Tsoutsahantes-ue by Hagop Mardirossian

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