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How and what the Turkish community in Cyprus "developed".

Reader comment on item: Cyprus on the World Stage
in response to reader comment: Turks in Cyprus and the real reason for the Greek coup

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Oct 15, 2011 at 19:54

George Philip wrote :

" Just a couple of technical points. The Turkish community in Cyprus was not formed by post-1570 settlement by Turks from Anatolia. Rather, in the usual Ottoman way, the Turkish community in Cyprus developed through conversion of the existing population, either through coercion or by offering enhanced benefits and rights. As is well known, non-Muslims in the Ottoman empire lived in a state of dhimmitude and the advantages of becoming a Muslim were, for some, too good to resist."

As early as 1571 the Turks conducted a population census which found out 180 000 people on the island - 150 000 local inhabitants and 30 000 men strong Turkish corps.Yet even 30 000 men of the Ottoman occupation army (20% of the population) didn't seem to the Turks a sufficient safeguard to assure the possession of the island for ever.So the decision was made to settle Moslems from and Rumelia on the island on a large scale. Some 5720 homesteads , i.e. c. 28 000 people were settled this way on Cyprus. So contrary to your assertion this 30 000 occupation corps and Moslem settlers and their descendants have formed the so called Turkish community in .

This is exactly what happened whenever the Turks conquered a given territory or what was the usual Ottoman way.The same we see happen after Manzikert in 1071 and after occupying Gallipoli in 1354 or after more recently in 1974 in . First comes jihad with its massacres and sadism, then arrive Moslem settlers to occupy in part empty and in part terrorized land with mosques and imams and then follow the Turkish claims to the occupied lands based on Turkish and/or Islamic "rights".

The conquest of Cyprus was accompanied by barbarity, carnage and wanton destruction on a mass scale in the usual Ottoman way. In Nicosia the Turks murdered 20000 inhabitants and abducted 2000 young girls and boys into traditional Turkish sex slavery. It might be interesting to learn whether hunting Christian youngsters and girls and relocating them in Turkish harems may be also called "developing" Turkish community in Cyprus or not ?

In Famagusta the Turks captured by treason among others the brave commander of the city Marc'Antonio Bragadino. They first cut off his nose and ears and after 10 days they skinned him alive sneering at him and his last prayers "Miserere". His body was then quartered, his skin stuffed with hay and shown around the city and the Turkish camp. Later this macabre "toy" was put, together with Bragadino's cut off head, into a box and sent to the sultan Selim II who showed it in turn to Christian slaves in his bath. Finally, when the Turks grew tired of the the "toy", the Venetians managed to ransom the ghastly trophy and bury it in an urn in the pantheon of Santi Givanni e Paolo church in where it has been resting until now.

Needless to say, the Gothic Cathedral of Nicosia ,which incidentally is called Hagia Sophia, the Turks immediately changed into a mosque , now Selimye Mosque . The cathedral's rich sculptures and reliefs were thoroughly destroyed by the Turks together with the fine frescoes and the rare stained glass decorations with scenes from the Old and New Testament and other works of Christian art.The tombstones of various Lusignan rulers were also desecrated, looted and destroyed ... in the usual Turkish way.

The Turks also confiscated large areas of land distributing them among janissaries, beys, settlers, establishing everywhere mosques, madrassas and landed property of the Moslem clergy -vakufs.

Not much imagination is necessary then to understand what regress the Turkish rule in fact meant for Cyprus. As one author put it :

"As chronicles of the three hundred years during which Cyprus was ruled by the dynasty of Lusignan are abundant, so are the records of the three hundred years of Turkish domination scanty... But the explanation is simple. The three centuries during which the island was governed by the kings and queens of the House of Lusignan were the most brilliant epoch of its varied history. In every aspect of mediaeval civilization the little kingdom played a distinguished part ; its remarkable achievements in every domain of human activity invested it with an importance among the nations of Europe wholly out of proportion to its small size and population. Its constitution was the model of that of the mediaeval feudal state;its laws, as embodied in the Assizes of Jerusalem, a pattern of mediaeval jurisprudence. It could boast, in the abbey of Bella Paise, in the cathedrals of Nicosia and Famagusta, in the castles of S. Hilarion, Buffavento, and Kantara, rarely beautiful examples of Gothic architecture;its men of letters, Philippe de Novare, Guillaume de Machaut, Philippe de Mezieres, occupied no undistinguished place in the realm of literature. In King Peter I it possessed perhaps the greatest knight-errant the world has ever seen;in his Order of the Sword the most perfect expression of chivalrous ideals. To Kings of Cyprus such widely different writers as S. Thomas Aquinas and Boccaccio dedicated works;the wealth and luxury of its citizens, especially in the fourteenth century, evoked the amazement of all Western visitors. Moreover, after the fall of Acre in 1291, Cyprus was the outpost of Latin Christendom in the East, with all the glamour and glory that such a circumstance involved ; while for a time the trade and riches of Famagusta vied in importance with those of Venice. An epopee of this kind could not fail to find its singers. The history of Turkish rule, on the other hand, offers none of the attractions of the wonderful epoch which was separated from it only by the eighty-two years of the Venetian occupation. It reveals no tale of martial exploits and fabulous wealth, no efflorescence of Frankish art and letters on the rich Levantine soil. Rather is it a story of provincialism and decay, of contracting commerce and unenterprising administration, a story not regal but parochial.Only at rare intervals does a picturesque incident interrupt the somnolence in which Cyprus lay after her feverish activities of the Middle Ages; from being a kingdom renowned throughout Christendom the island was become an obscure Ottoman dependency." (H.Ch. Luke , Cyprus under the Turks 1571-1878, a record based on the archives of the English consulate in Cyprus under the Levant Company and after, Oxford University Press 1921,p.1-3)

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