How the Greek Rebellion against the Ottoman Empire began

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HOW THE GREEK REBELLION BEGAN

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“Anyone who looks after and works for a widow and a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah?s cause, or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all night. (Bukhari)

The Greek rebellion against the Ottoman Empire began in the Peloponnese on 6 April 1821, with the slogan: “Not a Turk shall remain in the Morea”, which inspired indiscriminate and murderous action against all Muslims. The patriotic cry of the revolution, proclaimed by the Greek Archbishop Germanos, was “Peace to the Christians! Respect to the Consuls! Death to the Turks!”

According to the British writer William St. Clair, “The savage passion for revenge soon degenerated into a frenzied delight in killing and horror for their own sakes”. Another British writer, David Howarth, observed that the Greeks did not need any reason for these murders, “Once they had started…they killed because a mad blood-lust had come upon them all, and everyone was killing”.

It is estimated that nearly 30 thousands Muslims lived in the Peloponnese in March 1821. A month later, when the Greeks were celebrating Easter, there was hardly anyone left. According to William St. Clair:

“The Turks of Greece left few traces. They disappeared suddenly and finally in the spring of 1821, unmourned and unnoticed by the rest of the world…Upwards of 20,000 Turkish men, women and children were murdered by their Greek neighbours in a few weeks of slaughter. They were killed deliberately, without qualm and scruple…Turkish families living in single farms or small isolated communities were summarily put to death, and their homes burnt down over their corpses. Others, when the disturbances began, abondened home to seek the security of the nearest town, but the defenceless streams of refugees were overwhelmed by bands of armed Greeks. In the smaller towns, the Turkish communities barricaded their houses and attempted to defend themselves as best as they could, but few survived. In some places, they were driven by hunger to surrender to their attackers on receiving promises of security, but these were seldom honoured. The men were killed at once, and the women and children divided out as slaves usually to be killed in their turn later. All over the Peloponnese roamed mobs of Greeks armed with clubs, scythes, and a few firearms, killing, plundering and burning. They were often led by Christian priests, who exhorted them to greater efforts in their holy work”.

In 1861, the historian George Finlay wrote:

“In the month of April 1821, a Muslim population amounting to upwards of 20,000 souls, was living, dispersed in Greece, employed in agriculture. Before two months had elapsed, the greater part was slain-men, women and children were murdered without mercy or remorse…The crime was a nation’s crime, and whatever perturbations it may produce must be in a nation’s conscience, as the deeds by which it can be expiated must be the acts of a nation.”

According to the historian C.M. Woodhouse, the entire Turkish population of cities and towns were collected and marched out to convenient places in the countryside where they were slaughtered.

The genocidal orgy in the Peloponnese ended only when there were no more Turks to kill. This so-called Greek war of independence hitherto was hardly a war at all, but mostly a series of opportunist massacres against defenseless civilians, women and children who were slaughtered because of their ethnicity and religion.

After the massacres in the Peloponnese, similar skirmishes were started by Greeks in Crete, Cyprus, Samos, Samothrace, Thessaly, Macedonia and Epirus. The philhellenes and propagandists portrayed to the West the Ottoman’s strong measures as “Turkish barbarity against the Christian people.” The West, which closed its eyes and ears to the extermination of the Turks in Greece, immediately began to raise its voice against the Ottoman reaction. The following leaflet distributed in August 1821 in Hamburg is very instructive:

“Invitation to the youth of Germany. The struggle for religion, life and independence is calling us to arms; humanity and duty are calling us to the aid of the noble Greeks, who are our brothers. We must sacrifice our blood and our life for the sacred cause. The end of Muslim rule in Europe is approaching. The most beautiful land of Europe must be saved from the monsters! Let us join the struggle with all our strength…God is with us, because this is a sacred cause-it is a cause of humanity-it is a struggle for religion, life and independence”.

The returning Western volunteers who witnessed the bloody events in the Peloponnese became the antidote against this Greek propaganda. A Prussian officer wrote:

“The Ancient Greeks no longer exist. The place of Solon, Socrates and Demosthenes has been taken by blind ignorance. The logical laws of Athens have been replaced by barbarism”.

Yalcin Ayasli (TCA)

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