Televised prayers at Yerevan memorial cap an unprecedented effort at forgiveness.
“We have come here to apologize for what our ancestors did, to ask for your forgiveness,” two spokesmen for the Turks went on to say.
Shocked viewers across Armenia watching the Azdarar TV news channel on April 11 could hardly believe their eyes and ears.
Turks, claiming to be Christian? And laying wreaths at the nation’s genocide memorial? How could Turks, of all people, come to Armenia to honor the memory of more than a million Armenian Christians who had been slaughtered 100 years ago by their own forefathers, the Ottoman Turks?
Gathered around the monument’s eternal flame, the more than twenty Turkish citizens spoke out simply, and repeatedly: “We plead with you, if you can, to forgive us and the crimes of our forefathers.”
Significantly, the Turks were joined by a number of local Armenian Christians who formed a huge circle, holding hands together around the memorial as they prayed aloud in Turkish and Armenian for their nations and peoples.
“You wrote history here in Yerevan today,” one Armenian pastor declared. It was the first time, he thought, that prayers in Turkish and Armenian had ever been voiced together before the somber memorial.
The Turkish Christians’ April visit to Armenia was the latest step in an unprecedented reconciliation initiative between Turkish Protestants and Armenian evangelicals during the past year.
Organized informally by several Turkish pastors from Muslim backgrounds, the gatherings first began with diaspora Armenians in California and New Jersey, followed …