A couple of worshipers cross themselves within the Church of St. Dimitri on the island of Büyükada, off the coast of Istanbul. On this summer time morning, the bitterness is palpable. Two days earlier, the choice fell: Hagia Sophia will develop into a mosque once more. "After I noticed that on TV I cried", slips Vithleem Magoula. At 81, she is certainly one of Istanbul's final Greek Orthodox, or "Rums," that means "Romans," because the Turks name them in reference to the Japanese Roman Empire.
Solely a handful of Rums, principally aged, stay in the present day, relics of a centuries-old Hellenic presence. 160,000 individuals at first of the 20th centurye century, the Greeks of Istanbul fell to 2,000 members, below the affect of Turkish-Muslim nationalism and the persecution it entailed.
"We’re an endangered species, loosely Minas Vasiliadis, 37, editor-in-chief ofApoyevmatini, the final Greek day by day printed in Istanbul. When our readers open the newspaper, the very first thing they have a look at is the obituary. And there are extra deaths than baptisms. " In accordance with the elders, Apoyevmatini, based in 1925, on the time loved a circulation superior to the entire of the Turkish press. To this point, it doesn’t exceed 600 prints.
If the Greeks of Istanbul had been exempted from the Greek-Turkish inhabitants alternate of 1923 established by the Treaty of Lausanne, they nonetheless suffered violent persecution within the many years following the founding of the Turkish Republic. similar 12 months. In 1942, for instance, non-Muslim minorities in Turkey had been subjected to heavy taxes. All the pieces needed to be bought, in any other case you’d get to know the compelled labor camp. “My grandfather was ruined. We had nothing left ", remembers Vithleem Magoula.
In 1955, in a context of id tensions in Cyprus, a rumor relayed by the Turkish press claimed that the Greeks bombed the birthplace of the founding father of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in Thessaloniki. A pogrom then descended on the Rums, in addition to the Jews and Armenians. Consequence: about fifteen useless, a thousand homes and greater than 4,000 outlets ransacked.
In 1964, 10,000 Greek passport holders had been ordered to depart the nation, the Turkish state confiscating all of their property. This explains the inevitable exodus of the Greeks from Istanbul. Most went to Greece, others to Australia or Canada. Eleni Kostandinidis, a chic 80-year-old woman, is the one one in her household to stay. "I had 9 brothers and sisters, all of them went to Greece", she regrets.
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