Turkish Far-Right Sees Plot for Christian State

AsiaNews reports from Turkey, in the wake of the murder of Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in the Black Sea town of Trebizond/Trabzon (link added):

The religious leader of Rize [a town near Trebizond] stated without hesitation that ‘ the number of Christian religious coming to our city is on the rise, they have a different intent to ours, we must, our nation must, stay united against them’. The chief party spokesman for the Grey Wolves (MHP) also commented: ‘The priests who arrive in our area want to re-establish the Christian Greek-Orthodox state that was here before, there are spies among these priests, working for the West, they are trying to destroy our peace, the people from the Black Sea are conservatives by nature’.

I actually noted the same accusation last year – although then it was Protestant missionaries who were supposedly plotting to create the Christian state. Islam Online reported the views of a supposed “key researcher into religious affairs”:

“As 39 churches have been built in Istanbul alone during the last five years, the missionaries seek to revive the ancient Christian ‘Bontos State’ that had existed along the Black Sea coast in the 11th Century,” said [Altin] Tonish.

The “Bontos State” must be the Empire of Trebizond, which was set up by Greeks after Constantinople was conquered by Roman Catholics in 1204, and which was defeated by the Ottomans in 1461. The Greek Orthodox Church, of course, has no interest in resurrecting the entity – and to include Roman Catholic priests and Protestant missionaries in the plot is even more bizarre. The area was, however, ethnically cleansed of Armenians and other non-Turks during the First World War – perhaps the paranoid far-rightists who almost certainly inspired the murder of Santoro have a guilty conscience, and are projecting.

(PS – while we’re on the subject of Turkey, there’s a dramatization of Orhan Pamuk’s novel Snow currently available on BBC Radio 3.)

2 Responses

  1. Bontos is no doubt a variant spelling of Pontus. Pontine was the adjective used to describe all of the Black Sea Greek communities, not just on the northern Anatolian (Turkish) coast, but also the large communities that existed in Georgia and the Crimea.

    In this case, I’m sure they are referring to the old Empire of Trebizond. During the chaos following the First World War a group of Greeks from around Trebizond did manage to get a hearing for the idea of a revived Pontine state. At other times, Trebizond was marked for inclusion in the Armenian Mandate. I’m sure Turkish hypernationalists are very aware of all this and see it as a still living threat.

  2. […] were involved in separatist activities on the Black Sea; the far-right Grey Wolves have made the same allegation, and this was probably a factor in the recent murder of the Catholic priest Andrea […]

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