Multiculturalism and Armenia

Ashot Sargsyan



The 47th Munich Security Conference took place  in Germany on February 4-5, 2011, with participation of heads of 12 states, including the Armenian President  Serj Sargsyan, Foreign and Defense Ministers of 36 countries, 350 participants as a whole. The talks were held about the most important international security issues.


British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted at the conference that the multiculturalism policy failed. Cameron pointed out that the tolerance, based on the principle of non-interference into the affairs of those, denying the western values, proved to be wrong. It is time to take on the “muscular liberalism,” where the ethnic identity is shaped at the expense of democracy, human rights, rule of law and freedom of speech. The Prime Minister proposed, as one of tools for the new policy, to deprive the organizations, enjoying some weight in the Muslim community, but not decided what to do with the western values, from the financial support and expel from the student camps.


The British Prime Minister stressed: “Under the doctrine of the state multiculturalism the British authorities encourages separate existence of cultures. It has led to the deficit of the national identity, which, in turn, stimulated the interest toward radical ideas among young Muslims.  If we want to overcome this threat, I believe it’s time to turn the page on the failed policies of the past.”


It is necessary to note that German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a similar statement in September 2010, and almost immediately after the French President Nicolas Sarkozy did the same. France went further, adopting the laws, prohibiting women to wear hijabs, and banned praying on the street. Belgium also adopted the laws, banning veils in and other clothes, covering the heads and faces of Muslim women, in public places.


The President of Armenia, who took part in the Munich meeting, naturally, made conclusions for himself and returning back home, issues appropriate orders to the security bodies of the country. Although the multiculturalism does not endanger Armenia (RA and NKR) as much as the European countries, but our “compassionate” foreign friends could not refrain themselves from applying its alternative at us.


In 1990s, when European countries enjoyed unripe fruits of the initial phase of the multiculturalism and were proud of the co-existence of various cultures and confessions, representatives of 15 out 24 main religious trends were sent to Armenia. The goal was absolutely clear – to divide the mono-ethnic Armenia, where 97% of the population are Armenians, into religious communities,   intolerant to each other. But do Armenians cease to be Armenians, when changing the belief or religion? Are sectants not Armenians? In order to answer such questions, let us ask a naïve question first: if they are Armenians, why do they leave the national  church (we are not saying “abandon,” because many have never belonged to the  flock of the Armenian Apostolic Church) and join other  dubious churches, and why do external forces spend millions of dollars for it? Do they really have nothing to do, but taking care of the prosperity of Armenia?


The religion and belief really can get an Armenian higher, to a qualitatively new “Armenian” level; and to ascertain that it is true, one should just encounter  (no special effort is needed – they will “encounter” you themselves)  with any “Jehova witness,” to speak with him or her for a couple of minutes, and everything will become clear. Other sectants apply some other tactics, they work on the “second line” and can hide their true faces. Let us explain what this “second line” means. Athletes know that during the collective run, the more experienced teams use special “hares,” rushing aheading and running with a maximal speed. The runners from the less skillful teams, not knowing such a trick, try to catch the “hares,” meanwhile the members of more experienced ones  simply run at the planned pace. As a result, the competitors get tired, meanwhile the teammates of the “hare” catch the leaders and win.


No secret that sectants and some churches are managed from one center. This center decides which of the organizations will play the role a “hare.” As a result, the law-enforcement bodies of the given country are chasing the “hare,” focusing their whole attention just on him, meanwhile the other sects and churches quietly work on the “second line of the front.”


Now let us proceed to the most painful issue: can the Armenian Catholic Church and the Armenian Evangelic Church be considered as alternatives to the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church?


We have already touched upon this issue many times, but let us repeat that the disciples of Jesus, Thaddeus and  Bartholomew, came to Armenia as early as in the 1st century and spread the  life-giving word of Jesus and founded  the Apostolic  church here. Were Thaddeus and Bartholomew not zealous enough in  evangelizing, or did Gregory the Enlightener, Nerses the Great, Sahak Partev, Mesrop Mashtots, Movses Khorenatsi, Grigor Tatevatsi and others  propagate the life-giving word of Jesus any other way, or has the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church been deviated from the Holy Book and Jesus’s teachings? If not, then the existence of another church in the Armenian areal first of all is a sin against the memory of Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew.


One of the greatest representatives of the Armenian culture Mkhitar Sebastatsi in his famous behests touched the above-mentioned issue. The head of the Catholic Church forbade his followers to profess Catholicism in Armenia, understanding that the Armenian plateau is a possession of the Armenian Apostolic church. He decided to educate and enlighten the Armenian people and together with his supporters he successfully carried out this noble mission. His decent successors were G. Avetikyan, M. Avgeryan, M. Jahjachyan, Gh. Alishan, M. Chamchyan and many others, committed to the mentioned principle. But what are the Armenian Catholics, including the Mkhitarian abbey, occupied with in Armenia, where their number reaches 180.000, if we believe the statistics? What are the followers of the Armenian Evangelic church doing in Armenia (RA and NKR)?


The experience of Ireland can show the result of existence of various religious communities within one nation: Protestants and Catholics still cannot get on with each other there, and Ireland is unable to unite. Using the contradictions between the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, the United States and other forces succeeded in their activities there. The separatism of Muslims in India (Assam, Kashmir and Punjab) keeps the country in the constant tension. One of the reasons of the Serbian tragedy also lies in it. Lots of such examples can be mentioned. Armenians in Armenia (and not only) should consolidate themselves, but it is the existence of different religious communities that might prevent it. We used “might prevent,” because their number has not reached the critical mass yet.


The alternative of the multiculturalism in Armenia is opening schools with a foreign language education. This issue has been discussed quite a lot, so I would not touch it.


And you say the multiculturalism has no alternative…


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