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France betrayed the Syrians in 1938-1939

Reader comment on item: Is the Hatay/Alexandretta Problem Solved?
in response to reader comment: Capital of Hatay

Submitted by Bassam Michael Madany (United States), Jul 20, 2016 at 17:38

I was born in Seleucia (Souedia in Arabic), the port city of Antioch, mentioned in the Book of Acts 13:4. I grew up in Alexandretta (1934-1939). The city was the most cosmopolitan place in Syria. The population was primarily Arabic-speaking Christian Syrians, with Alawites and Armenians minorities. The educational institutions were mostly run by French, Italian, and British groups. Alex functioned as a seaport for Aleppo whose merchants imported their goods through its port.

During summer months, most residents would go to nearby summer resorts escaping the humidity and the very high temperatures. Ataturk was bent on occupying the Province, and managed to do that notwithstanding the results of the plebiscite conducted by the League of Nations after one year of living under Turkish occupation during which all schools were forced to teach modern Turkish, including the National Anthem, most of us left the Province not wanting to lose our age-long identity that we had maintained during 400 years of Ottoman rule.

Turkey tried to obliterate our past, changing the name of my birthplace from Seleucia to Samandag! More than 70 years later, I still miss my homeland, especially the orchards of the family that grew olive trees, oranges, plums, figs, peaches, and by the canal from the Orontes River, the large pomegranate bushes!

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