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Correspondence Relating to Executions in Turkey for Apostacy from Islamism   By:

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First Page:

CORRESPONDENCE

RELATING TO

EXECUTIONS IN TURKEY

FOR

APOSTACY FROM ISLAMISM.

[stamped:] BIBLIOTHÈQUE DU PALAIS DE LA PAIX

Presented to the House of Lords, by Her Majesty's Command.

May, 1844.

LONDON:

PRINTED BY T. R. HARRISON.

CORRESPONDENCE

RELATING TO

EXECUTIONS IN TURKEY

FOR

APOSTACY FROM ISLAMISM.

No. 1.

Sir Stratford Canning to the Earl of Aberdeen . ( Received September 20.)

(Extract.) Buyukderé, August 27, 1843.

Within the last few days an execution has taken place at Constantinople under circumstances which have occasioned much excitement and indignation among the Christian inhabitants. The sufferer was an Armenian youth of eighteen or twenty years, who having, under fear of punishment, declared himself a Turk, went to the Island of Syra, and returning, after an absence of some length, resumed his former religion. Apprehensive of the danger but resolved not to deny his real faith a second time, he kept out of sight till accident betrayed him to the police, and he was then thrown into prison. In spite of threats, promises, and blows, he there maintained his resolution, refused to save his life by a fresh disavowal of Christianity, and was finally decapitated in one of the most frequented parts of the city with circumstances of great barbarity.

Inclosed herewith is a statement of the particulars drawn up by Mr. Alison.

It is not merely on grounds of humanity that I would draw your Lordship's attention to this incident: political considerations of serious importance are connected with it; and on this account, no less than from regard for the tears and entreaties of a distracted family, I exhausted my influence in vain endeavours to divert the Porte from its purpose. Every Member of the Council to whom I applied, returned the same answer, expressing a willingness to meet my wishes, and regretting the inexorable necessity of the law.

For my own part I do not believe that any such necessity exists. The determination of the Government to sacrifice the Armenian youth, in spite of my earnest solicitations, unless he recanted publicly, is part and parcel of that system of reaction which preceded my arrival here, against which I have constantly struggled, and which, notwithstanding the assurances given to me, and the efforts of its partisans to conceal it, is day by day gaining strength, to the despair of every enlightened Turkish statesman, to the prejudice of our relations with this country, and to the visible decline of those improvements which, in my humble judgment, can alone avert the dissolution of the Sultan's empire.

The law, which, in this instance, has torn a youth from the bosom of his family, and consigned him to an ignominious and cruel death, would apply with equal force to a subject of any Christian Power.

Such of my colleagues as I have consulted upon this subject appear to take a view of it similar to my own, I refer, in particular, to the Austrian, French, Russian, and Prussian Ministers: each of them has told me that he intended to recommend the question to the serious consideration of his Government.

Since my arrival here one British and two French subjects have declared in favour of Mahomedanism, and much difficulty has been experienced in dealing with the individuals concerned. The British subject, a Maltese, returned to the Catholic faith a few days after he had declared himself a Turk, and he was privately conveyed out of this country. The Porte, on that occasion, evidently identified the change of allegiance with the change of creed, and not only would a trifling incident have sufficed to raise the question arising out of that principle between Her Majesty's Embassy and the Porte, but had the man been arrested after his recantation, I should perhaps have been reduced to the necessity of putting all to hazard in order to snatch him from the hands of the executioner... Continue reading book >>




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